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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On This Day… September 8

Let’s take a look at some writing-related historical events.

  • 1830 Frederic Mistral is born
  • 1873 Alfred Jarry is born
  • 1930 First appearance of comic strip “Blondie”
  • 1933 Michael Frayn is born
  • 1947 Ann Beattie is born
  • 1948 Thomas Mofolo dies
  • 1960 Penguin Books in Britain is charged with obscenity for trying to publish the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • 1999 Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban  is published in the US

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.

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.

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

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.