Archive for October, 2006

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006
Happy Halloween

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Halloween. There’s just something electric in the air this time of year. You can almost taste the energy. I’m a strange duck in the sense that I enjoy monster movies and paranormal everything, but I don’t like to be scared. Like I said, I’m strange. *g*

In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d put up some cool links to some haunted sites and share a ghost story. The first and best IMO is Mary King’s Close. This medieval street was walled up during the plague and the people inside were left to die. Legend has it that they had to saw off body parts to get them out after rigor set in. The site is located around the corner from dh’s old flat in Old Town Edinburgh, Scotland. Now I didn’t personally see any ghosts when I did the tour, but I did have a couple of unusual things happen when I was down there. The first was I felt like the group I was with was being followed. I kept looking over my shoulder so much that the tour guide asked if I was okay. The sensation never went away while I was down there. The second occurred when we entered a room where the child, Annie died. For some reason, I couldn’t breathe in there. I started hyperventilating and had to be walked out of the room into a bigger space. (It was quite embarrassing.) The tour guide later said that the child had suffocated. Weird. At least I thought so.

The next site I have been to, but didn’t tour, is Greyfriars’ Graveyard. I have a lot of photos of this place, but I don’t know how to get them onto my blog. There are definitely some creepy looking crypts in this cemetery, but I do find it strangely beautiful.

Now for my ghost story. When I was a teenager, I worked as a nurse’s aid in nursing homes and in private care. I had a love/hate relationship with the job. I loved it because I enjoyed talking to the people in the homes and I hated it because I got attached to everyone so when someone died it felt like I was losing my grandparents repeatedly.

One woman, we’ll call her El, I was particularly attached to. She told me stories about her younger years that would probably curl her son’s eyebrows. *ggg* One day I came in for my shift and El told me she wanted to die. Keep in mind that she didn’t have anything life-threatening wrong with her. I dismissed it and tried to make a joke because the subject made me uncomfortable. El was dead a week and a half later. It was the first time in my life that I realized that people could WILL themselves to die. I was heartbroken over her death, but it’s what happened beforehand and directly after that has stayed with me all these years.

The women I worked with at the nursing home told me that when someone was getting ready to die that paranormal activity started in the home. I honestly thought they were pulling my leg, but several swore that they spotted the ghost of one of the past tenants coming out of the ‘chapel’ area. He was an ex-soldier who’d been wheelchair bound in his later years. They’d see him dressed in his uniform, standing proud by the doors. Luckily, I never saw him, but I always liked the idea that he was no longer confined to his chair. They also occasionally felt someone pulling their hair and tapping them on the shoulder.

It appeared that El had died, but the activity hadn’t. There were extreme temperature changes in the wing I worked in. The best way I can describe it is a ‘dead cold’. It’s not like when you open your freezer or walk into the snow. The charge in the air seems to be sucked away, leaving only a lifeless cold behind. This wall of cold started at the end of the hall near El’s old room and continued all the way to the chapel. I could literally stick my arm out and half of it was in room temperature while the other half was in the cold. As if having a wall of cold wasn’t scary enough, the one room at the end of the hall had the furniture rearranged in it between rounds.

Being the skeptic that I am, I dismissed the furniture as a prank the other girls were playing on me. I figured the cold air was a disruption in the a/c system. That reasoning worked until we finished rounds. What I failed to mention is that in every room there is a call button above the patients’ heads. Each button had an answering light located at the nurse’s station. Several of the residents weren’t physically capable of reaching that button.

As I said, the rounds ended and we headed for the nurse’s station. We’d just stopped to say hello to the RN on duty when the call buttons started going off in what looked like a power surge. We went room to room, turning off the buttons and making sure everyone was okay. The second we got back to the nurse’s station the buttons started coming back on one by one. It was definitely NOT a power surge. At this point, the hair on the back of my neck and on my arms rose. My eyes started to water. (This happens every time I get scared.) The ‘cold’ had moved to encompass the last four rooms in the hall. Whatever/Whoever it was (perhaps El) was having a grand time playing with us.

By the end of my shift the cold had disappeared and the floor was back to room temperature. We (the two other aids and I) received a call from the other wing, telling us our new ‘friend’ was over visiting them. Since we were technically off work, we went over to investigate. (I was much braver and far more bulletproof back then.;) The temperature in their wing changed about halfway down. The nurse’s aids had turned the lights off for the nightshift. Dark + Cold = Tons of fun. *ggg* We walked down the hall, rubbing our arms to try to get warm. It didn’t work. We’d made it almost to the end when we heard one of the residents ask, “Is there someone in my room?”

Me and one of the other girls stepped forward to look in her room and saw a gray mist hovering near the night light. It wasn’t big, approximately three feet in height and about a foot off the ground. It also didn’t have form…exactly, but I’d seen enough to know that I was out of there. My ghost-hunting days were over. (Unless TAPS would let me ride along on one of their jobs.:) The third nurse’s aid had already started running by the time me and the other girl took off. I was so scared that I beat them both down the hall. I quit my job a month later. I couldn’t quite get past what I’d seen and experienced. Like I said, I was a teenager so my imagination was running wild after that night. If I hadn’t experienced everything with two other people, I would probably have tried to convince myself it never happened. Funny how the mind works. Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 29th, 2006
Mentally Gearing Up

The weekend has been fairly quiet on the home front. Dh spoke at a day-long conference on Sat. and rocked the house. (He’s a really good presenter.) I spent Sat. watching the monster movie marathon. I LOVE old monster movies. 🙂 The folks return tomorrow for a couple of days, then they head back home to Scotland. It’s been great having them. It’ll be our turn to visit next year.

I’m trying to figure out what I need to do in preparation for my unofficial NaNo. I need to write 252 pages by the end of November to complete the first draft of my urban fantasy. That works out to be about 8 pages a day. Not bad, considering I can write extra and take a few days off. I’m thinking that I need to go back over my three act structure. I currently have the book laid out with one sentence prompts from start to finish. I may need to flesh them out a bit to make it easier to write the book. The more detailed they are the faster I’ll be able to write. I also think I need to ask the heroine and the hero to tell me the story from start to finish. The he said/she said will fill in any shadow areas. Yep, I’m thinking that’s what I need to do. Joy, Joy, Joy. Time to open up a vein. *ggg*

Friday, October 27th, 2006
This is the story about a Boy

I’m feeling nostalgic, so I thought I’d tell you the story about a boy I once knew. I had such a wonderful childhood. I grew up on farms, spending summers with my grandparents. I thought my grandpa was a god. Snort. Still do. *g* Anyway, there were a lot of kids around my grandparent’s home and several relatives. We’d meet them on the weekends at a river that still holds a special place in my heart and always will.

One such perfect summer weekend brought Kevin into my life. I was probably twelve or thereabouts and he was thirteen/fourteen. Perfect crush age–and boy did I fall hard. (wg) He had beautiful hazel eyes, dishwater blonde hair, a sexy mouth, and a mischievous grin that made you always wonder what he was up to. Like I said, it was love at first sight for me. *ggg*

He obviously took pity on me (and my puppy dog behavior) because he actually let me hang out with him. 🙂 We’d go swimming and fishing regularly. We sat around a lot of campfires making ‘goo-goo’ eyes at each other, when we weren’t wrestling for supremacy. (What can I say? I was a tomboy.)

As we grew up, our feelings morphed into raging teenage hormones. *g* I still remember how soft his lips were on mine. Blush. Eventually, like life often does, things changed. Kevin was in a bad automobile accident. He suffered head injuries that caused severe seizures. My grandpa died and grandma moved off the farm. Kevin’s parents left for Texas, taking him with them. One of his older brothers, whom he was close to, killed himself a year or so later. His oldest brother followed suit shortly thereafter. Kevin and I never saw each other after that, but I kept up with him through his mother.

He eventually moved back to the Midwest and got married, started raising a family of his own. I lost track of him for a while, but managed to speak to him a few years ago. It was nice to catch up. I made him promise that if he ever felt self-destructive like his brothers that he’d give me a call. He promised he would. I guess it was a promise that he just couldn’t keep.

Three years ago today, Kevin drove to that river that we loved so much, the place we had such wonderful times at and where we created so many happy memories, and he shot himself. (There was speculation that he wasn’t alone, but it was never proven.) I later found out that the seizures he’d managed to get rid of after the accident had come back with a vengeance. The medication was no longer working and I guess he couldn’t take anymore. I hadn’t seen him in years. I have no idea what he looked like as an adult. In my mind, Kevin will always be that boy that so easily captured my teenage heart and took a tiny piece of it with him when he exited this planet. May he find the peace that he couldn’t find here.

Thursday, October 26th, 2006
What is Evil? Have you seen it?

I want to mention a few things before I launch into the subject of this entry. First, I’d like to apologize for the quality of the picture on the Phantom Warriors: Saber-tooth page. I had to use a tiny jpeg and stretch it. The good news is that the blurb and excerpt are up for everyone’s perusing. 🙂

The second thing I’d like to mention is Monica Jackson’s Romancing the Blog entry today. It gives you a lot of food for thought and makes you realize that although it’s 2006, not much has changed in the world. Sigh.

Now onto my original subject. Tess Gerritsen recently asked everyone visiting her blog to tell her if they’d ever seen evil in someone’s eyes. I did comment in the entry about an experience I’ve had on a couple of occasions. I’m not exactly sure what it meant. (If it took place more often though, I’d seek medical attention. *ggg*) I’ve actually been thinking a lot about the responses she received. I find them utterly fascinating.

I’m not sure I’ve ever looked into the face of evil. (Pretty grateful about that actually. 🙂 In the urban fantasy I’m writing, I do a twist on good and evil but it’s nothing like the real experiences people wrote about. Not sure if that’s good or bad. Right about now, you’re probably wondering why in the world I brought this subject up. Well, it stems from the episode of Ghost Hunters that I watched last night…right before I went to bed. (wg) There was a haunting in a house that the investigators were concerned might turn violent later on. The haunt kept waking up the couple’s daughter and asking her to play. She would get up and play with the entity. One night she was ill, so she slept in bed with her mom. The dad slept in his daughter’s bed. He was woken up by something whispering near his ear. It kept asking where his daughter was by name. He told it that she was sick and it suddenly pulled the sheets tight, trapping him beneath the covers then proceeded to jump on the bed. It kept it up until he told it that it was scaring the crap out of him. It giggled, then stopped. (At this point, I would’ve personally packed up the house and moved.) The ‘ghost’ sounded like a child, but a couple of the investigators were concerned ‘it’ might be lying. :-O This episode got me thinking about Tess’ entry.

As humans, are we able to recognize evil when we ‘see/sense’ it? If we can’t, then why not and what do you think the ramifications are?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006
Time To Get Down To It

The folks are off to L.A. for a few days, so I really must get back to work. I’ve learned that it looks like Phantom Warriors: Saber-tooth will be released next week. YAH!!! I’ll create a page for the book and put up an excerpt by the end of the day. 😀 Not sure if there will be a picture because I have difficulties getting those to upload.

Other than that, I’m still playing the waiting game with the multiple manuscript submissions. Hopefully I’ll know something soon, but it’s dicey enough to go either way. :-/

How many of you are going to participate in NaNo? Are you doing it formally or informally? I’m thinking that I am going to participate informally…like always. *g*

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006
Success or Failure

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately where authors are burning out because they’re trying to keep pace (ie writing several manuscripts a year) with the ‘new’ publishing clip. I’ve experienced this myself–in 2003 to be exact. It was not pretty. I was writing a book every other month and then suddenly, I couldn’t write a thing. The burnout lasted for months. For a while, I was worried that I’d never write again. 🙁

Why am I bringing this up now? Because a dear friend and I were discussing the different ways you can achieve success in publishing. (For the purpose of this entry I’m using the word ‘success’ in general terms. I know that everyone’s definition of success is different.) In our minds, there are only two ways to build a career in this business. Either you have to turn on the speed and produce several manuscripts a year for several years in a row OR you have to write one outstanding book that could launch you into space. Now the latter doesn’t ensure that your next book will be as well received, but it does give you time to write the kinds of books that you want to write. (ie ‘one outstanding’ book a year vs several ‘good’ books)

I suppose it’s the typical tortoise and the hare syndrome with a catch. There’s no guarantee that if you shoot out of the gates that your work will connect with readers anymore than if you took your time to polish your one masterpiece. So the question is, if you had a choice between the two methods of publication, which one would you choose and why?

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006
Is This a Recent Phenomenon?

I’ve seen a lot of boards/blogs/chat areas where editors and agents are ripped on by readers and wannabe writers. When did this start happening? When did people starting shredding the business people they may very well end up working with in a few years? To me it smacks of biting the hand that feeds you.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because my agent recently had an attack on her integrity after she posted a blog entry, concerning the things that may happen to a submission. Key word being ‘MAY’. (Keep in mind, it’s her personal blog and she should be able to post whatever she wants there.) I debated whether to jump into the fray since my old agent was held up as the gold standard of representation (and he is VERY good at his job), but in the end I decided against it. Why? Because I knew my opinions would be considered skewed since I’m currently represented by the woman they were flaying.

I guess why I’m so surprised by the hostility is that some of the people on the boards were seeking agent representation. Not necessarily from my agent, but by others. If it were me, I might be a little concerned that an agent that I’d queried would wander over to the boards/blogs and see my comments. Maybe the participants don’t worry about things like that. Goodness knows I worry enough for everyone. *g* I guess I figure that despite the actual size of several of the publishing houses and agencies, it’s still a ‘small, small world’ and word gets around pretty fast. I suppose the lesson here is spew venom at your own risk.