The Stanley Hotel – Colorado

In true Friday the 13th fashion, we have a haunted hotel story. This hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel The Shining, and you can still stay there today.

The Stanley Hotel has a long history. It saw the likes of Harry Houdini and many other greats of the time. Freelan Oscar Stanley has the house built, unveiling the 100-room East Coast Colonial-style house in 1909. He and his wife had fallen in love with Estes Park after the moved there on the advice of Freelan’s doctor. It helped Freelan’s tuberculosis, and he lived longer than had been expected.

Eventually, the house changed hands in the 1930s when Freelan sold it to a corporation who transformed it into a hotel. It didn’t fair well because the nearby national park was still growing. John Cullen bought the hotel, and thanks to Stephen King, was able to turn it into a success. King had visited the hotel in 1974, and it became the backdrop for his book “The Shining.” The pet cemetery that was onsite also inspired King. King wanted to invest in a cinematic do-over using the Stanley Hotel. Cullen agreed to this, and trucks were brought in loaded with the McGregor ballroom stage, furniture, and wallpaper that is still there to this day. So that brings us to the question, is the Stanley Hotel really haunted?

The guests of the hotel think so. In 1911, there was an explosion in room 217 that sent Elizabeth Wilson, a chambermaid, through the floor and broke both of her ankles. She somehow survived, but people believe she haunts the hotel.

Stephen King even believes he experienced something otherworldly at the hotel. He said:

“I dreamt of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”

The staff won’t explicitly state if they believe the hotel is haunted, instead, they leave it up to guests to draw their own conclusion. They don’t try to hide from their reputation either. They have daily “ghost tours” and offer special bookings for rooms 401, 407, 428, and 217. They even have a resident psychic.

If you are interested in experiencing this hotel for yourself, make sure you book well in advance, especially if you want one of the rooms listed above.

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Series of Unfortunate Events – My Thoughts

I’ve not done a post about a book in a while, so to make up for it, this book will talk about all 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long post, but there may be spoilers.

Now, I had read these books when I was younger. When Netflix came out with their series for the books, I decided to re-read them so that I could refresh my memory. I didn’t allow myself to watch the series until I had finished reading the books, so that was fun.

For those who are not familiar, these books are aimed towards younger/middle age children. I don’t typically care what age group books are aimed at. I read what I want.

The first book, The Bad Beginning, starts out with the three Baudelaire children being told by Mr. Poe that their parents had perished in a deadly fire. This is just the start of the children’s unfortunate lives.

One thing you will quickly notice about the books is that Lemony Snicket enjoys alliteration. He also tries very hard in every book to convince the reader to stop reading the books, or to turn their attention to something different.

In The Grim Grotto, which is the 11th book, he repeats information about the water cycle. While it may sound like these diversions from the main story would be annoying, it really isn’t. (At least not to me) To me, I think they are fun and make Lemony a character. It is meant to be a retelling of a story, so it makes sense that Lemony would get to have his own attitude.

Book after book, the children have to face Count Olaf. Each time they discover who he is right off the bat, yet no other adult in the books ever recognize him. It becomes frustrating at how dense the adults are.

If anybody reading these books ever think that maybe things will change for the Baudelaire and that they will get to live a happy life, you are sadly mistaken. Lemony Snicket even assures you that nothing is going to change for them.

Guardian after guardian is killed by Count Olaf. They get accused of murder. They have to run around the hinterlands and hitchhike with strangers. Sleep in an unfinished hospital wing. Sail in a broken down submarine. Get separated from each other. And almost thrown down a mountain. Those aren’t even the worse things that happen to them.

But, finally, you make it to The End. A small glimmer of hope shines inside of you. “Maybe,” you think to yourself, “Things will change for the Baudelaire children.”

Well…

You wouldn’t be completely wrong, but you won’t be right either. Count Olaf is there and some dumb adults that don’t think for themselves. The island turns out to be a safe place for the children. They believe them about Count Olaf. They even lock him in a cage on the coastal shelf.

Yet, something is fishy about the island and Ishmael, and it’s not just the ceviche.

Ish turns out to know everything about the children and he claims that everything he does is to “protect” the villagers. The children could stay as long as they “don’t rock the boat,” but they are Baudelaires and they can’t stand injustice. So, of course, they rock the boat.

They get themselves isolated on the coastal shelf with Olaf and stranded Kit Snicket.

Oalf manages to enact one more crazy plan and releases a deadly poison on the island. The children find out that the apple tree on the island can help, but they can’t get all of the others to believe them. Instead, they ship out with Ish.

I won’t go into any more detail. I will say, the exact outcome of the Baudelaires or any of the other characters that didn’t die aren’t shared. You’re left to wonder how things worked out for them. If they were about to go back into the world without being chased by the police. Or if they joined VFD. Of if they found the Quagmire triplets.

This seems to be a problem for some people. I update my Goodreads when I finish a book. When I added The End, I noticed there were a few people who didn’t like how he ended the series. They didn’t like the mystery that was left. They wanted it wrapped up in a pretty little bow, and that the kids lived happily ever after.

I get that, but, I also understand why it was wrapped up the way it was.

Lemony Snicket never hid the fact that the Baudelaires’ story would be a series of unfortunate events. (It’s the name of the books.) Plus, the books are supposed to be written by a person sharing what he has learned. I feel the way the last book wraps things up fits in with the whole premise of the books. Diaries and journals are rarely wrapped up into pretty little bows, and that’s basically what these books are supposed to be.

I love these books. I always have and always will. When I have children, they will read these books. They may seem morbid to some, but I think they also teach a lot of valuable lessons for adults and children alike.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.

Short Story – Just Desserts

A note before I begin the story. This story is posted on my website, but I wanted to make sure that everybody sees and reads my stories. Let me know what you think.

Growing up in a large town like Boston made Katie grateful for her new town. Katie moved to Nantucket ten years ago and quickly found her groove. Her cupcake shop, Sweet Treats, was up and running within a year. Now her shop was a staple, and a must try for the tourists.

Katie balanced the purple box of cupcakes in one hand as she unlocked the glass door to her shop. With a bump of her hip, the door swung open releasing the air-conditioned air from the shop. A shadow loomed over her as she walked through the door. She knew that shadow. She caught the door with her foot before it closed in the shadow’s face.

“Thank you,” said the gruff voice of the local-rent-a-cop.

Neil had moved to Nantucket around the time Sweet Treats had opened and had tried his best to become a police officer. The problem was, he was as blind as a bat. They felt sorry for him and gave him a job as a security guard at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital.

“Good morning Neil. I’ll have the coffee on in a minute.”

Every Friday morning Neil would come by just as Katie unlocked the shop. They would have coffee together, and he would help her get the shop ready. She had asked him once why he only came by on Friday. He stated simply, that it was the only morning he didn’t have to go in early. That was Neil, a simple, straightforward guy.

“I’m here on official business this morning.”

“Official business?” Katie asked, sitting the cupcake box on the counter. “Did somebody miss a doctor’s appointment?”

“No, somebody died.”

“It’s a hospital. People die there sometimes.”

“The death didn’t happen at the hospital. It happened at the wine and food festival last night.”

Katie stood silent for a moment. A lot had happened the night before. She had been busy at her cupcake stand for most of it and only had a break when her assistant Amy took over. She vaguely remembered noticing a hubbub around the lighthouse but assumed somebody had a bit too much wine.

“What happened?” Katie asked.

“Mr. Keenan was murdered.”

Mr. Keenan was the president of the bank and an unpleasant person in general. There were a countless number of people in town that had been tricked by Mr. Keenan. Several of the old ladies had lost their savings because of ‘overdraft fees.’ Newly married couples were warned to steer clear of Mr. Keenan’s bank if they were looking to finance a new house.

“Why are you here?”

“The other cops are busy talking to the witnesses, and they asked if I would be willing to talk to you,” Neil replied, looking at his feet.

“Did they really?”

“No, but I think they would have. I thought I could be helpful.”

Neil was always trying to be helpful, and he always wrapped Katie up in his escapades. Most of the time they were simple things like a missing wallet or a lost dog. This was by far the most interesting. Murders were virtually unheard of on the island. Katie pressed the on button and listened as the water began to gurgle in the coffee maker.

“What information were you looking to get from me?”

“I know you were working the festival, and I wanted to find out what you saw.”

“Unfortunately I didn’t see anything. Do you know what happened?”

“Grace found his body at the bottom of the lighthouse. There weren’t any visible wounds, but the police said he had signs of asphyxiation. I’ve heard some people say they saw Margaret fleeing the lighthouse shortly before Grace found him.”

Margaret Fleming was the local good girl. She was involved in every church function. She was the first to volunteer for everything, and she was the best at getting people to donate to a worthy cause. Margaret had never been in trouble a day in her life. Katie had bought her shop from Margaret. Sweet Treats had become a success because of her for two reasons: she warned Katie to stay away from Mr. Keenan, and Margaret loved flyers.

Katie couldn’t see someone as sweet and gentle as Margaret suffocating a grown man to death. It may have been quite a few decades since Mr. Keenan had seen his hair, but he was a large, stout man. He had enjoyed his fair share of Katie’s cupcakes.

“Margaret couldn’t have killed him,” Katie said, pouring them both a cup of coffee.

“That’s what I thought.”

The shop door banged open and Amy came bounding in, tossing her purse on the counter. She grabbed a cup of coffee and turned towards her friends.

“Guess what?” Amy quizzed.

“What?” Katie replied.

“Margaret Fleming was arrested for murder this morning.”

Katie eased her coffee cup to the counter. Stunned, she stared at Amy. Had they even bothered to investigate the murder? There was no way a woman of 50, that weighed 90 pounds soaking weight, could murder a man that weight well over 300. Neil fiddled with a button on the side of his utility belt.

“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?” Amy asked.

“How did you find out?”

“I just saw them taking her from the library in handcuffs a minute ago.”

Katie darted over to the window and peered out. Neil looked out over her head. Sure enough, there was a cop car parked outside of the library with Margaret in it. Amy was bad for sharing gossip she heard around town, and for the most part, it turned out to be false. But Katie was seeing this with her own two eyes.

People had started to gather around the library to see what was going on. Katie made her way out of her shop and eased her way over. She had to hear this for herself. She wanted to know the evidence they had that suggested Margaret had killed Mr. Keenan. The closer she came to the crowd, the louder their voices became.

“I saw her do it,” shouted some teenage boy.

His mother quickly covered his mouth and shooed him away. Besides a few loud-mouthed teens, everybody else had the same concerns as Katie. There was no way a tiny woman could strangle such a large man with her bare hands.

Katie and Neil followed the cruiser to the police station. They raced inside as they took Margret to the booking station. Sheriff Cox looked up over his newspaper and eyed the two of them.

“What can I help you with?” he asked, looking back at the paper.

“We want to know why Margaret was arrested,” Katie stated.

“Didn’t you hear? She killed Mr. Keenan.”

The Sheriff shoved a powdered donut in his face, washing it down with a gulp of coffee.

“No offense, sir, but do you really think somebody Mrs. Flemings size could have killed him?” asked Neil.

“Nope, but that’s the only lead we have. Unless you two can give us more information, she is our one and only suspect.”

“Can we talk to her?” Katie asked.

“If you can figure out the truth, then, by all means, be my guest. I’m not interested in getting flack from the town for arresting their beloved librarian.”

Katie smiled at the Sheriff. She and Neil made their way over to the booking station. Officer Miles held up his hand, stopping them.

“You’re not allowed back there,” stated Officer Miles, puffing out his chest.

“Let them through,” the Sheriff shouted.

Office Miles stepped back; his chest deflated and motioned them through. Margaret sat behind the cold table in the interrogation room. A dim light shined overhead, accentuating the bags under her eyes and her tired appearance. Katie and Neil eased in the room. Margaret glanced up at them. A momentary look of relief flashed across her face.

Margaret looked down at her hands. The cold grey cuffs glistened in the dim light. Katie sat down at the table across from her. Neil stood behind Katie. Katie reached out a gentle hand and touch Margret’s.

“What happened?” Katie asked.

“They think I killed Mr. Keenan.”

“But you didn’t?”

“Of course not,” gasped Margaret, “Lord knows he was not a nice man, but I could never hurt another living soul.”

“You were seen running away from the murder scene,” Neil stated.

Margaret fidgeted in her seat. She glanced around the room before settling her gaze back on her hands.

“Margaret, if you know something, please tell us,” Katie pleaded.

“I’m not sure what I saw. Why are you two even here?”

“The Sheriff is at a loss for suspects. I suppose it’s easier for him to blame you than it is to open an investigation. We volunteered to help.”

“So please let us know what you know,” Neil added.

Margaret sighed. She looked up at Katie. By the looks have her eyes; Margaret had been awake all night.

“I saw it happen,” she whispered.

Officer Miles led Katie and Neil to the crime scene. The yellow police tape billowed in the wind. The lighthouse was empty except for the three of them. The sun stood high above them.

“I don’t know why you two are wasting your time with this,” Officer Miles stated.

“Do you seriously think that Mrs. Flemings could have killed such a large man?” asked Katie.

“No, but there is nothing to be found.”

Katie and Neil ducked under the police tape. Just inside the lighthouse door, they could see the outline of Mr. Keenan. Police markers laid on the ground, marking what evidence they had found. Katie and Neil looked around, trying to find anything more. All they could find were the same set of footprints and a cupcake wrapper.

Katie took out her cell and took a photo of the footprint. Neil grabbed a tape measure from his belt and measured the length of the print.

“The print is 11 inches long.”

“That has to be too big for Margaret’s foot. Did you match this print to Margaret?”

“I don’t think so. I just booked her. This is the first I’ve been out here. They did measure it though, it’s in the notes. I think they assumed it was Keenan’s print,” Officer Miles replied.

Katie wandered back over to the cupcake wrapper. Bending over, she looked closer at the wrapper. It was one of hers. It came off of her maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes. Margaret never chose cupcakes with alcohol in them, and Mr. Keenan was allergic to chocolate. His cupcake of choice was always the French vanilla. He had been upset last night that she hadn’t brought any with her.

“Do you have an evidence bag for this?” Katie asked.

Officer Miles ran back to the car, bringing back a forensics case. Opening the case, he reached in a grabbed out an evidence bag. Katie took the bag and a pair of tweezers from Office Miles. She eased the paper into the bag, sealing it.

“What are the odds we could find out the size of Keenan’s foot?” Neil asked.

Officer Miles stared at Neil. A moment later, Miles nodded towards the cruiser.

Officer Miles dropped Katie off at her cupcake shop before taking Miles to the coroners. Amy had been running the shop since Katie left. Katie ran into the shop towards the back. Slinging open the fridge, she pulled out the cupcakes she had brought in that morning. She opened each box trying to find the one that had held the maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes. The only ones that were left were the margarita, butter pecan, and toasted almond.

“What’s up?” Amy asked, leaning against the door frame.

“Did you sell all of the maple bourbon chocolate last night?”

“Yeah, why?”

Katie glanced out into the shop. It was packed with the lunch crowd. She motioned for Amy to come closer.

“I think the killer was eating them.”

“Does the Sheriff know you are working on this?”

“Yes, he told me I could. Do you remember who bought them?”

“A lot of people did. It’s one of our most popular.”

Katie sighed. She slumped back against the counter and glanced at her phone. Neil had said he would call when he found Mr. Keenan’s shoe size. Amy started to head back to the front of the store, stopping at the door.

“Actually, I do remember something strange. Just after I took over, somebody bought a maple bourbon. He was in front of Mr. Keenan. When he turned around, he almost ran into him and Keenan went crazy. He started screaming about how he was allergic to chocolate and other nonsense.”

“Do you remember the guy?”

“Not really, but he was tall, dark, and handsome. I know most everybody on Nantucket, and I didn’t know him.”

That was saying something. Amy headed back to the counter as Katie wracked her brain, trying to remember any new men on the island. Margaret had said she had seen everything, but everything she had seen had been in shadows. The only thing Margaret kept saying was the man was tall and had huge hands. Maybe the tall, dark, and handsome man Amy had seen was the tall, shadowy figure Margaret had seen.

Katie’s phone rang. Neil’s face flashed up on her phone. She swiped across the screen and brought the phone to her ear.

“What did you find out?”

“Come outside, I have something to show you.”

Katie ran outside. Neil grabbed her arm and pulled her around the corner. He handed her his phone, images from the coroner’s office stared at Katie. Flipping through the photos, she saw images of the purple handprints on Keenan’s neck, a half-eaten chocolate cupcake, a strand of black hair, and business card. Katie zoomed in on the business card. It read, Need a Home? Call Derrick Shore for Help Today. Derrick Shore? That wasn’t a name Katie was familiar with.

“Miles let me take all the pictures I wanted, but I couldn’t take anything with me. By the way, Keenan’s foot size was 12 inches.”

“I wonder why they took the half eaten cupcake into evidence, but not the empty wrapper,” Katie mused.

“The cupcake was in his mouth, so it came along with the body.”

“He’s allergic to chocolate. Why would he be eating a chocolate cupcake?”

“Maybe the killer shoved it in his mouth.”

“We need to talk to Derrick Shore. Amy remembers some guy getting yelled at by Mr. Keenan, but didn’t recognize him. I bet anything it was this Shore guy.”

Katie sat in the open waiting area of the local bank. A somber hush filled the room. On a typical day, the bank would be filled by the booming voice of Mr. Keenan. Now things sat calm and quiet. An odd feeling of peace and sadness wrapped the room.

Katie had called the bank to ask if they knew of a Derrick Shore. Since the business card looked like it belonged to somebody in the real estate or bank business, somebody at the bank should know something. They knew who Derrick Shore was. He had come to Nantucket two days earlier. Nobody knew why, but he had met with Mr. Keenan the morning of his death.

“Katie?” asked Derrick as he walked out of Mr. Keenan’s office.

Katie stood and reached out her hand. Derrick politely shook her hand and motioned towards the office. Derrick’s dark black hair was slicked back in a neat coif.

“You own Sweet Treats don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I love you maple bourbon chocolate cupcakes.”

“They are our best sellers.”

“So what can I do for you today?”

“I had some questions about your relationship with Mr. Keenan.”

“This is a small town if a baker is also investigating a murder.”

“I’m trying to help out a friend. So if you could just help me out by answering a few questions, I would greatly appreciate it.”

“I only have a few minutes, but I’d be glad to help.”

“Thank you. How did you know Mr. Keenan?”

“I was going to buy his bank from him.”

Katie hadn’t heard that Mr. Keenan was looking to sell his bank. News like that would have made its rounds on the gossip mill.

“He was selling the bank to you?”

“He contacted me about two months ago; I believe it had just turned 70. He wanted to retire.”

“How did he meet you?”

“We actually met at a convention over two years ago. I had forgotten about him, but he must have kept up with me. He invited me to the wine and food festival last night to talk about things.”

“He didn’t happen to yell at you for nearly hitting him with a chocolate cupcake?”

“Yes, actually, he did. It threw me off guard for a moment, but he apologized later.”

Apologized? Mr. Keenan didn’t apologize. He would knock down a child, and blame the child for messing up his suit. Mr. Keenan must have really wanted to sell the bank if he had apologized.

“Thank you for your time. I should get going now.”

Derrick showed Katie out. The sun had started to dip towards the horizon. Katie’s stomach growled. She hadn’t stopped to eat anything. Katie looked at her watch. It was creeping up on two. Neil should be getting ready for lunch. That would give them time to talk, and eat.

Neil and Katie sat in the hospital cafeteria, a tray of hospital food in front of them both. Katie poked at the spaghetti on her plate. Neil had tried to ask some of the patients about Mr. Keenan’s death but had only succeeded in getting reprimanded. Katie knew Derrick had to be connected to his death somehow. He had big feet, big hands, and black hair. He also had eaten his fair share of maple bourbon cupcakes.

“Mr. Keenan was selling his bank?” Neil asked for the third time.

“Yes, and he apologized.”

Grace Park walked past their table for the fifth time since they had sat down to eat. She worked as a nurse at the hospital and had been the one that found Mr. Keenan. She was also the reason why Margaret was in jail. Grace was the only one that had seen Margaret running from the lighthouse. She paused and turned back to Katie.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but did you say that Mr. Keenan was selling his bank?”

“Yeah, to some guy named Derrick Shore,” Katie replied.

“I meet Derrick about an hour before I found Keenan, and he said that Keenan had turned down his offer. Mr. Keenan wasn’t looking to sell; Derrick was trying to buy his bank.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, he was pretty chatty about it.”

“Neil, come by my shop when you get off work. I have to get back to the bank.”

Katie raced towards the door, bumping into Clyde Owens. Clyde was a hulk of a man. If he hadn’t grabbed Katie’s arm, he would have knocked her to the ground.

“Sorry,” Clyde mumbled.

Clyde worked at the hospital as a maintenance man. His boss had called him early that morning to let him know that he could have the day off if he needed it. Clyde was Mr. Keenan’s nephew. When his mother died, Mr. Keenan refused to take him in, so he was sent to live with his paternal grandparents in Chicago. He moved back to Nantucket when he turned 18 in hopes of learning more about his mother, but that proved to be futile.

“It’s okay. It was my fault,” Katie said, sliding out the door.

Clyde straightened his black hair, nodding at Katie as she left.

Back at the bank, Katie ran into Derrick’s new office, interrupting a meeting. A little old lady sat across from Derrick, her hands shaking gently as she looked up at Katie.

“I’m sorry for the interruption, but I have to talk to you,” Katie stated.

“We were just finishing things up. If you can give me five minutes, I will be right with you,” Derrick replied coolly.

Katie stepped back into the lobby. She paced in front of Derrick’s office. Customers stared at Katie, her anxious energy worrying them. Officer Miles stepped through the bank doors. He paused for a moment, looking for Katie. Katie waved at him, grabbing his attention.

“Neil told me you were here. He said you had new information.”

“I’ll tell you once I talk to Derrick again.”

“Who’s Derrick?”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll tell you later.”

The door of Derrick’s office squeaked open as the little old lady walked out. She glowered at Katie as she headed towards the door. Derrick motioned for Katie to come in. Officer Miles walked in behind her, staying close to the door.

“So, Mr. Keenan contacted you to sell the bank?”

“Yes, he did. I thought we went over this earlier today?”

“We did, but I just had an interesting conversation with Grace Park. Do you remember her from the festival?”

Derrick glanced up at Officer Miles. Worry clouded over his eyes.

“Vaguely,” he mumbled.

“Can you guess what she told me?”

“Okay, I lied. Besides Mr. Keenan, Grace was the only one that knew I had approached him to buy his bank. I did meet him at a conference a few years back, and he did remember me, but he was never interested in selling. But that doesn’t mean I killed him.”

Katie looked back at Officer Miles. He had taken out his notepad and was writing down notes. Glancing up, he noticed the worried look on Derrick’s face.

“I think we need to take you in. I believe the Sheriff will be interested in learning more,” Officer Miles stated, removing his handcuffs from his belt.

“But I didn’t do anything.”

Katie finished cleaning the last display case. Since Amy had handled the store by herself all day, the least Katie could do was clean up. Amy sat at the corner table, a cup of coffee in one hand and a margarita cupcake in the other. The smell of pine sol mixed with the coffee creating an almost sickening smell.

Katie slid the cleaning supplies back in the closet and washed her hands. She felt proud of herself. Not only had she cleaned the shop in record time, but she had helped Neil free Margaret. She poured a cup of coffee and made her way over to Amy.

“I can’t believe you solved a murder case,” Amy stated, as Katie sat down.

“I didn’t solve a case, I just freed Margaret. All the Sheriff needed was another lead.”

“I’m pretty sure that Derrick guy did it. He wanted to buy the bank, and Keenan told him no. What better way to step in and take over. He also liked your maple bourbon cupcakes.”

“True.”

Katie took a sip of her coffee. She looked out the window over at the library. She pictured Margaret walking up those steps tomorrow morning. Katie had wanted to go the station with Officer Miles so that she could tell Margaret the good news, but he had suggested she stay behind.

Katie had reluctantly agreed. She called Neil, though. He said he would go to the station once he got off work and let her know how things worked out. Katie glanced at her phone again. A quarter till six. Neil had gotten off work 15 minutes ago.

“Stop looking at your phone,” Amy said.

“I can’t help it.”

“Go to the station if you are that worried.”

“I promised I wouldn’t. I’ll just wait for Neil to call.”

The bell jingled over the front door causing Katie and Amy to look up. Neil walked in. His brow furrowed as he fussed with his phone. Amy grabbed Neil a cup of coffee before grabbing herself another cupcake.

“So?” Katie asked.

Neil blindly sat down at the table and took a sip of the coffee. Katie stared at Neil. Amy shook his arm. He continued messing with his phone, ignoring the girls.

“Neil!” Katie shouted.

Neil jumped, noticing the girls for the first time.

“Sorry, I was trying to pull up the info Miles sent me.”

“Are they releasing Margaret?”

“Yes, but they’re releasing Derrick as well.”

“Why?” Amy asked.

“The footprint didn’t match, and Margaret said his size wasn’t big enough.”

“So we still don’t know who killed Keenan.”

“Look on the bright side, you freed Margaret,” Amy said.

Neil slid his phone over to Katie, a picture of the sole of a shoe shown on the screen. The shoe design was smooth compared to the lined print left at the murder scene. Swiping left, Katie saw a picture of Derrick’s hands beside the image of the bruises on Keenan’s neck. Derrick’s hands were considerably smaller than the bruises.

“It was just a coincidence that he liked the same cupcakes as the killer.”

“What is the Sheriff going to do?”

“I don’t know, he wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“That’s a footprint from the murder scene?” Amy asked, leaning over the table to get a better look.

“Yeah, why?” Katie asked.

“I’ve seen that print before. The nurses and custodians at the hospital all wear shoes like that.”

“Seriously?”

“Mhm.”

Katie looked at Neil. He grabbed his phone, sliding it back in his pocket. Katie grabbed her car keys and led Neil out the door.

“Where you going?” Amy yelled after them.

Neil unlocked the security access door and eased in, making sure it was clear. Katie snuck in behind him, easing the door shut. Neil checked the roster to see who was on duty for the night shift.

“Todd’s working tonight. We shouldn’t have anything to worry about.”

“Why do we have to sneak around? You’re allowed to be here.”

“Yeah, but you’re not. Only hospital personnel can be in the security and nurse locker rooms.”

Neil motioned towards the door. Easing the door open, he poked his head into the hallway. Neil opened the door for Katie to ease through. Neil led them down the hall towards a set of double doors with the words Authorized Personnel Only written across it. As Neil reached for the keypad the doors swung open, barely missing him. Todd Jenkins, the on-duty guard, stepped through.

“What’s up four-eyes? Katie?”

“Todd, hi. I was just… uh…”

“I had lunch with Neil earlier, and I think I left my phone. He was going to go look for it.”

“Through there?”

“Shortcut,” Neil shouted.

“Go ahead, but I’ll expect a free cupcake,” Todd said, winking at Katie.

Katie feigned a laugh and followed Neil through the doors. Neil motioned for Katie to stay close to the walls.

“Todd may not care, but the nurses or doctors might have something to say.”

Katie nodded, staying close to Neil and the wall. Footsteps echoed up the hallway beside them. Neil opened the closest door and shoved Katie in. When the door slammed closed, Kate stood inside a dark custodial closet. Katie leaned her ear against the door trying to hear what was going on. The thickness of the door blocked out all the sounds of the hallway.

Katie felt around for a light switch. Her fingers snagged across the switch, illuminating the small closet. Mops and brooms leaned up against the far wall. Shelves along the walls held hospital gowns and towels. In the far corner, a blue lunch box and matching thermos sat on a small table. Katie stepped towards the little table, investigating the lunch box. The name Clyde was written across the lunch box in black sharpie. Katie eased the lunch box open. Inside was an empty cupcake wrapper, a ball of tin foil, and an empty bag of chips. The closet door opened.

“Come on, hurry,” Neil whispered.

Katie slipped back out of the closet and followed Neil towards the locker room. Neil eased into the locker room, motioning Katie in when he discovered it was empty.

“All the shoes, head coverings, and masks are kept in here. The actual locker rooms are through these two side doors. The women’s on the right and men’s on the left.”

“We just need the shoes.”

“Here, I grabbed an extra one so that you could help,” Neil said, handing Katie a tape measure, “Nobody else should be coming in or leaving for at least 30 minutes, so we shouldn’t have to worry about anybody catching us.”

Katie stepped towards the cubbies that held the numerous pairs of shoes. Some were filled with white shoes, and others held regular shoes. Neil and Katie went through measuring the shoes in each cubby.

“Neil, these tennis shoes are eleven inches. Do you know who number 53 is?”

“I think that’s Clyde’s number.”

“I found his lunch box in the closet you shoved me into earlier.”

“And?”

“It had a cupcake wrapper in it. It was the one I use for the maple bourbon cupcakes.”

“He gets off in ten minutes, and always leaves through the back. We could meet him there.”

Katie nodded, staring at the shoe in her hand. Why would the killer still be wearing their work shoes? They only wore white shoes in the hospital. Clyde should have been wearing his tennis shoes at the festival.

Katie and Neil waited by the back exit for Clyde to come out. They had been waiting for over 30 minutes. Katie was ready to leave and forget about it when the door opened. Clyde walked out, lunch box in hand, and tennis shoes on his feet.

“Clyde, good to see you, can we talk?” Neil asked

“I guess,” Clyde mumbled.

“Do you wear a size 11 ½ shoe?” Katie asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Just curious. Did you enjoy the festival last night?”

“The festival? I had to work last night.”

The back door swung open revealing a burly, angry looking nurse. In her hands, she held a pair of dirty white shoes.

“Clyde Owens,” boomed the angry nurse, “Would you like to explain why these shoes are dirty?”

Neil took out his phone and turned on the recorder. Clyde looked at the nurse, anger filling his eyes.

“You also disappeared during your shift. You left for your break and were gone for three hours. I said you could go to the festival for a bit, but you had to come back. If I find out you wore these shoes out of this hospital, their replacement is coming out of your salary.”

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but did you say you let Clyde go to the festival last night?” Katie asked.

“Yeah.”

Katie looked at Clyde. A red flush had started to creep up his neck and onto his face. Neil looked over at Clyde’s hands. The skin around his cuticles looked darker than the rest.

“Clyde, did you hurt your hands?”

“Hmm?” Clyde grunted, turning towards Neil and shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Can I see your hands?”

“No, you’re not a cop. You’re a damn security guard. You have no authority.”

“You’re a fan of my maple bourbon cupcakes aren’t you?” Katie asked, bringing his attention back to her.

“Yeah, so what?” Clyde shouted.

“It must be really hard on you today, with your uncle getting killed last night.”

“Not really. We didn’t get along.”

“Did you hear that he was found with one of my maple bourbon cupcakes in his mouth?”

“So, he liked those. Everybody does.”

“No, he was allergic to chocolate,” Officer Miles said as he came around the corner.

When Neil turned on his phone’s recorder, he had paged Officer Miles. Miles had heard the entire conversation.

“No he wasn’t,” Clyde spat.

“Yes, in fact, he was. He yelled at me on numerous occasions that I should get rid of all my chocolate cupcakes,” Katie said, “You, on the other hand, loved them.”

Clyde struck his hand out reaching for Katie. Officer Miles grabbed his arm, pulling it behind his back. Neil grabbed his other arm, inspecting his hand. The palm of Clyde’s hand was tinged blue with bruising.

“How did you bruise your hand?” Neil asked.

“He was selling his bank! First, he refused to take me in after my mother died, and now he is selling his bank to some stranger instead of giving it to his next of kin. I’m stuck working for this bear of a woman for breadcrumbs, while he does nothing but rip off little old ladies.”

“He wasn’t selling his bank,” Katie said.

“Yes, he was. I heard it from some guy named Derrick.”

“That was a lie. Derrick came to him. He wanted to buy the bank from Keenan, but he turned him down.”

Clyde’s head slumped down as Officer Miles clasped the cuffs around his wrists. He looked up at Katie, realization dawning in his eyes.

“How did you figure out it was me?”

“Your work shoes. Had you taken the time to change into your tennis shoe, it would have been a lot harder to figure you out,” Katie replied.

“I kept them on to make things harder. Everybody in the hospital wears them.”

“Exactly, it led us straight to the hospital.”

Officer Miles led Clyde to his cruiser, sliding him in the back seat. Neil put his arm around Katie’s shoulders, giving her a slight hug.

Once back at the station, Margaret identified Clyde as the killer. After she saw his stature and hands, she remembered seeing him in his custodial uniform. As for her fleeing the scene instead of getting help, she had been too afraid to speak. She hadn’t seen where Clyde had disappeared to, and she was worried that he would see her and kill her as well.

When everybody learned that Margaret had been released, they all gathered at her house to welcome her home. Katie and Amy brought cupcakes, and Neil brought coffee.

“Thank you, Katie. I don’t know what would have happened if you and Neil hadn’t have helped.”

“It’s the least I could do. You kept Mr. Keenan from ruining my life, so I owed you one.”

Margaret laughed as she wrapped Katie in a hug. Katie really did love her little island family.

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. I will be making Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles available for free on Kindle in the coming weeks, so make sure you keep an eye out so that you don’t miss your chance.

Mark Your Calendars

You’ve heard me talk about my book Loved by Death over and over again. Well, I’m excited to tell you that I have finally finished it completely, and it will be available for purchase on August 31.

I can’t really say how I feel about it. I still have a lot to do, and a lot to worry about. I have to make sure I promote it properly, otherwise, it won’t go anywhere. And that would just be depressing. I’ve spent years working on this book and I want other people to enjoy it and love it like I do.

I also have to make sure I don’t let myself get carried away or too frustrated if things don’t happen as quickly as I think they should. I feel good about the book overall. I think it’s the best I could do, and I do love the story.

I’ve got some last minute things to do to get the book formatted and ready. I’m also going to see if I can get some people to read it and leave me ratings on Amazon to help with promotion. FYI, if you’re interested in leaving me a rating on Amazon for my book, I would send you a free copy of the book.

The book will be available as an ebook as well as paperback. That’s my message for the day. Just some crazy ramblings from my brain about how anxious and scared I am about publishing my first book.

If you have experience in this area, please, leave a comment and let me know how you dealt with the stress and worry.

There is marvelous peace in not publishing. It’s peacefull. Still. Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. – J.D. Salinger

The Killer of all Great Writers

Today we are going to talk about the biggest killer of all writers.

 

Writer’s Block

 

Calm the screaming. I know, it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to end your career. There are ways around it, and I’m sure I will write many more posts on the subject. There’s no need to feel bad. Every writer gets it. Even the best most famous writers have to deal with writer’s block. I’ve got 14 ways to help you work through writer’s block.

Before we get into how to combat writer’s block, let’s look at what could be causing the block.

  1. Timing – Maybe it’s not the right time for you to write. Maybe you need to let your ideas stew a little bit more before they can be written down.
  2. Fear – A lot of writers will struggle with fear when it comes to actually putting their ideas down on paper. They are afraid of sharing a part of themselves. They are afraid of being criticized and judged. They are afraid that it will be the only thing they write. I know fear has been what has slowed me down on getting my first book out.
  3. Perfectionism – For a writer, the book is never done. Even once its gone to press, you’ll still be thinking about how you could have changed something. At some point, you have to be finished with it. Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s only an excuse.

While dealing with writer’s block is tough, here are some things you can try to break through the wall.

  • Find some inspiring quotes and read them for inspiration.
  • Make bullet point lists of ideas.
  • Call somebody you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Spend some time with a person that lifts you up.
  • Come up with a regular schedule.
  • Make some coffee.
  • Listen to music.
  • Freewrite.
  • Read a book.
  • Switch up your environment.
  • Play.
  • Exercise or do something that keeps your blood pumping.
  • Get rid of your distractions.
  • Take a walk.

The important thing is to create some momentum to get over that wall.

If your still not sure what to do, here are some things that you should not do to try to overcome the block.

  • Refusing to write until you are inspired.
  • Wallowing in self-pity.
  • Making excuses or procrastinating.
  • Watching TV.

If you’re looking for that magical fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block, here it is:

WRITE

Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Catch Me On Facebook

This one is going to be short and sweet. Since Facebook has made changes to their sharing policies, I have made a page specifically for my writing, blog posts, book promotions, and so on.

This way my blogs can be shared immediately after I publish them. I was just sharing them on my regular page, but Facebook made that harder.

I will probably also post regular updates to Facebook that I don’t publish here, so make sure you follow me there to stay up-to-date on everything that I have going on. I also have Instagram and Twitter if you want to follow me there. I post every day things on Instagram so you would get a bit of an insight into my everyday life.

I’m working tirelessly to get my exposure up before I publish my first book so that it is a success. I’ve tried publishing short stories and the like before, but they never did well because I didn’t put the time and effort into it. I have spent several years working on this book, and I plan on writing several more books for Wolfsbane Chronicles, so I want to share it with the world. This is my passion and my dream, and I am going to make it a success.

Twitter Handle: @mylidlradio92

Instagram Handle: @mylidlradio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.feliciah

Search without Google is like social networking without Facebook: Unimaginable. – Evgeny Morozov

 

4 Self-Publishings Tips that will Give You Exposure

By the end of August, I plan on having my first novel available on Amazon. I’m scared out of my mind about doing so because of all the unknowns. Will people like it, will people read it, how do I make sure people even know it exists?

I’m sure if anybody reading this has self-published a book, or plan on doing so in the near future, you’ve had these same thoughts. We’re going to take a little journey through some things that we can all do to self-promote our books so that hopefully all of our hard work doesn’t go to waste.

Giveaway

I know we all are interested in making money and giving your book away isn’t going to do that, but everybody likes free things. While you may not make any money, giving your book away for the first day or so after its launch could end up getting you more exposure. The people that purchase your book during that time may leave a review, which will get your name out there, and if they like it, they will come back and purchase more books.

Reduced Price Offer

Once your book has been up on Amazon for a month at its full price, you can use their reduced price offer that comes with a KDP countdown. This will lower the price of your book, which you choose, for a certain period of time. The people who view your listing will see a countdown timer showing how much longer the book will be available at that price. This promotion will also boost your numbers sold, which will help to boost your author rating.

Pick a Niche Category

You need to search through Amazon to make sure you pick the best two categories for your book. You need to make sure that you pick a niche that is going to help you get to the top of the charts.

Social Media

You have to use your social media accounts in a smart way because overexposure can end up hurting you. Try to limit yourself to only three accounts like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And don’t post multiple daily links to your book either. You will overwhelm your viewers and drive them away. It also helps to make sure that you have a picture with your link. People are more apt to click on a link if it comes with a picture.

That’s the tips I have for you today, but there are lots more out there. There are also a lot of websites that can help you promote your book as well. The thing to remember is that you have to work at it. No matter how good your book is, people won’t buy it unless they know it’s there.

Some self-promotion:

As you know, if you have read any of my other blogs, I have been published twice in Millhaven Press. You can still get both journals to read my stories.

Get Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense here

Get Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder here

Get both journals here

I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book. – Roald Dahl