Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!

A big thanks to Jen and Melissa for hosting this wonderful blogfest. Can't wait to visit all the other blogs involved and add some great ideas to my holiday lineup. Hope you enjoy...

When the kids were born, we switched from an artificial tree to a real one. It's always a Douglas fir and always needs trimming to fit into the living room.

The ornaments are a mix of family heirlooms and ones given to me over the years.

The popcorn strings are new this year. The kids thought making them sounded like fun and it was until they realized how long it took, which is why we only ended up with three.

It wouldn't be Christmas at our house without my mom's Persimmon Pudding.

2 cups persimmon pulp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk with
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk
9" x 13" baking dish

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Melt 1/2 stick butter in the baking dish in the oven.
Mix sugar and persimmon pulp together, add beaten eggs and stir well.
Add soda to buttermilk and stir until foaming stops, then add to persimmon mixture and mix well.
Add sifted dry ingredients and beat well.
Add cream and pour butter out of 9 x 13 pan into the batter, leaving just enough butter in the pan to grease.
Beat mixture well to remove all lumps.
Bake at 300 degrees for one hour.

My favorite drink to make this time of year is Crockpot Wassail. It's easy, and after it simmers throughout the day, your house will smell heavenly.

2 quarts apple cider
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup honey
3 sticks cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 whole orange, cut in rings
brandy or rum, optional

Put all of the ingredients into the crockpot (except the alcohol). Wash your orange well and slice into rings. Float the rings on top of the juice.

Cook on high for two hours, or on low for four. You want the juice hot and the flavors of the cloves and cinnamon to permeate.

Ladle into mugs. If you want to add alcohol, put a shot into each mug, then top with the hot wassail.

Delicious and soothing. This is great for a cough or sore throat, so when you're on your third glass, you can tell everyone it's for medicinal purposes.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of our Christmas traditions. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.

Christmas Traditions

Every year, the kids and I venture out into the cold for our Family Fun Day. This usually takes place the week before Christmas after the shopping is done and the cookies are made. We always go out to eat, take in a movie and then head over to one of the mega-malls in our neighboring state of Kentucky to people watch (meaning laugh at those last minute shoppers who are running around desperate to fine the thing their spouse, child, parent asked for six months ago which is now sold out everywhere. Hey, don't judge.).

Any other year, I would know exactly what movie we were going to see, when it starts and where I'm going to park. But this year has been different, for various reasons, and I haven't kept up with the movies that are out or soon will be. So I need your help.

Bear in mind my kids are ten and thirteen so R rated movies are to be avoided, although I'm dying to see Love And Other Drugs. I've narrowed it down to three choices:
So if you've seen any of these movies, let me know what you thought. If you haven't, let me know which one you want to see. And if I've left something off of the list that you highly recommend, please tell me about it.

In other news,
Soon to be single! *drool*

10 Ways To Know You Might Be A Writer

First, let me say I'm not a fan of Jeff Foxworthy. I don't know why, he just bugs me. But this popped into my head today and I've learned to write it down when that happens because you never know, ya know?

10. If you constantly tell your kids to "show not tell" when they begin to relay their daily adventures...you might be a writer.

9. If you're often seen mumbling to yourself or beating your head against the desk while staring at a stark white Word document...you might be a writer.

8. If you correct the grammatical errors in your supervisor's email and send it back to her as a critique...you might be a writer.

7. If your trip to the bookstore has at any time lasted more than five hours or involved squeeing or crying...you might be a writer.

6. If you stare into space trying to think of a word to describe that tree branch up there while the person you are with attempts to carry on a conversation...you might be a writer.

5. If you secretly hope your blind date goes horribly wrong so you'll be able to submit it as a flash fiction piece to that humorous magazine you found last week on Duotrope...you might be a writer.

4. If you cut the fingertips off all of your winter gloves...you might be a writer.

3. If you spit on your friend's copy of Snooki's new novel, not only because trees were harmed unnecessarily in the making of it, but because your first attempt at a romance novel, which now sits covered with dust bunnies under your bed, is better...you might be a writer.

2. If you've dated a librarian, not because you particularly like him, but because you see him more than anyone else...you might be a writer.

And the number one sign that you might be a writer...

1. You immediately look for U,E,R and Y when you discover you've drawn a Q during your family scrabble game.

I may or may not have done one or all of the things on this list. As my daughter used to say, "I'm not telling and you can't make me."

Until next time...

Wednesday Bits And Bobbles

I've declared Wednesdays my days for making sure you are aware of awesome contests going on around the blogosphere and being silly.

We all get spam every day (not that nasty stuff in the can that my mother used to fry and tell me was ham) and some of them are too entertaining not to share. So straight from the junk folder, I picked out three really nice ones this week. I hope you find them as enjoyable as I did.

Did My New Guy Give Me An STD?
OK, I know it's a serious subject, and one of the reasons I haven't gotten back into the dating scene since the divorce was final, but what bit of wisdom could you glean by reading this except that maybe it's time to see your doctor.

How To Help A Hoarder
I had to peek at this one. First sentence, Do you know someone who blames a messy home on being too busy? Well great. I'm a hoarder and so are all of my friends. How about you?

 This one was my favorite, because, as my daughter says, it's so "random". It's from someone that calls himself Burger and is simply titled, poiskovoe-prodvijenie-saytaooostrekoza. To which I say, gesundheit.

And now to the contests...

The Badass Bookie is having a Debutante Ball on her blog for twelve debut authors with books having birthdays in 2011. This is the best part - she's giving away the books! You don't want to miss it and you can enter through December 31st.

The League Of Extraordinary Writers is also having a wonderful contest where they are giving away all five of their books (XVI, Across The Universe, Memento Nora, Possession, The Eleventh Plague) plus swag, but you must enter before the 19th because they're announcing the winner on December 20th.

Until next time...

Writing For Yourself

I watched an interview this weekend with Steve Martin about his latest book, An Object Of Beauty, where he said,
No matter how many people say it - 'Oh, I'm just writing this for myself', 'Oh, I'm just doing this for myself' - nobody's doing it for themselves. You're doing it for an audience. So whether I'm performing or writing a book or playing music, it's definitely to be put out there and to be received in some way.

When I heard it I scoffed. After all, I know people who are just writing because they love to do it. It's a hobby, and they will live happy lives even if they never find an agent or publish one word. I thought I was one of them.

Let's face it, we all know the odds are as high as our wobbling stack of to-be-reads that we'll ever get our novel on the shelves - astronomical, in fact. So surely most of us are doing it for the pure joy, right? WRONG.

Writing has always been a way to share feelings and memories; the key word here being share. Whether it's fiction or non-fiction, a short story, a novel or a recipe, even if you only plan on your friends and family reading it, it's still written for someone else.

This blog has become a place to share my dreams, my little accomplishments and my many setbacks with people who are like me and "get" it. For that reason I am eternally grateful to all of my followers and the wonderful writer/bloggers out there that I've been able to connect with. But now I realize the true reason I started this blog was to share all of those things with my kids. No matter how close you are with your children, you can't have full disclosure for a lot of different reasons. And right now, they don't want to hear me blabbering on about my life when they're busy with their own. But I'm betting someday they'll be ready to share.

Do you know anyone who writes purely for themselves? Can you think of any circumstances where you wouldn't want to eventually share your writing with even one person?

It's Official!

Now that Thanksgiving is over and Cyber Monday has passed (I got some GREAT deals! Yay!), the Christmas season is officially upon us. In my house that means cookie baking, candy making and tree decorating. But as important as all of those things are to our enjoyment of the holidays, there are a few other things we simply must do before Santa scoots his fat ass down the chimney. I'm talking Christmas movies.We love them. We watch the same ones religiously year after year and it just wouldn't be Christmas without them.

I thought I would share my five favorite "must see" seasonal movies:

5.  Christmas Vacation - Classic Chevy Chase and my personal favorite of all the Vacation movies.

4. The Homecoming - This is my "when I was your age" movie even though I never lived on a farm or a mountain, never had six brothers and sisters, never walked to school and was never that poor.  I'm older than the kids, so I figure I'm entitled to claim it.

3. A Christmas Carol - Although this movie has been made and remade a dozen times, my favorite is the 1951 version with Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge.

2. It's A Wonderful Life - This is the one you want on in the background when you're wrapping presents.

1. A Christmas Story - Ralphie is like part of the family and we all cried when Darren McGavin died back in 2006.

This was tough for me because I could have easily made a list of twenty that we watch almost every year, but I decided to go with these. You know that feeling you get on the way to the airport when you're leaving for vacation, that "what am I forgetting" feeling? Well, these are the five movies that give me that inkling of panic if I don't watch them before the stroke of midnight on Christmas night.

Of course we are always on the lookout for new Christmas movie ideas, so I would love to hear which movies your family enjoys during the holidays so I can add them to my list. Well, come on, I know you all have an opinion...

P.S. NaNo was a bust for me but congrats to all of you that have won or will by the end of the day. I did get quite a bit written on my current MS, more than I would have without the NaNo support, so I thank all of my cheerleaders for that.

We Have A Winner!

The results are in from random.org

And the winner of my follower giveaway is...

Lola Sharp from Sharp Pen Dull Sword


Lola, you should have an email from me asking whether you would like the Amazon gift certificate or the three ARCs.

Thanks again to everyone who entered. You don't know how much you all mean to me.

I don't plan on blogging next week as my big brother is coming up from New Orleans for Thanksgiving. I only get to see him once a year, so he always gets my full attention (O.K., NaNo will be getting some also, but I won't tell if you won't). 

My family practically lives at the movie theater during the holidays, but with NaNo I haven't been keeping up with the new releases. I'm taking the kids to see HP7 today because my brother just isn't "into" Harry Potter (sometimes I wonder if we're truly related).

So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to recommend a movie. Have you seen anything lately that you loved or are you looking forward to a must see coming out Thanksgiving weekend? I could sure use the help.

I Am A Saboteur

Yesterday I convinced myself that certain things I'd been putting off for months needed to be done immediately because if they weren't, the whole world would stop rotating, or worse, I would be the cause of the zombie apocalypse (I realize Halloween is over, but zombies are "in" any time of the year. Have you seen the new AMC series "The Walking Dead"? LOVE).

I did all of these things, that if I'm being honest didn't need to be done or else I would have done them like a year ago, because I'm woefully behind in my pursuit of the coveted NaNoWriMo winner's badge and didn't want to face the fact that I should be writing.

So for those of you cleaning out that thing no one ever sees anyway, or repainting that room because you can't get that stain off of the wall, I wanted to give you a bit of inspiration.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
                                                                                             Marianne Williamson

Do you have any words of wisdom you want to share?

My follower giveaway ends Friday, November 19th. Just leave a comment on this original post. Don't miss out!

An Award And Giveaway!

Thank to all of you for sticking with me through my NaNo trials and tribulations. I read a fantastic NaNo-inspired post by Aimee Bender, one of my favorite authors, and wanted to link to it here. I am finally getting over this virus and hope to be back to full writing strength soon.

A special thanks to Quinn for awarding me the Beautiful Blogger award. If you haven't visited his wonderful site, you should. There is always something interesting going on over there.

I would also like to encourage you to join Rachael Harrie's Inaugural Writers' Platform Building Crusade if you haven't already. I've met so many terrific writers and discovered some really great blogs through her efforts. Thanks, Rach!

One of my fellow Crusaders is having a giveaway on her blog, Marieke's Musings, along with a great interview with Jackson Pearce on researching historical novels.

Last, but certainly not least, my follower giveaway! This was supposed to be a 100 follower giveaway, but life interrupted. Now, I'm closing in on 150 followers and wish I could afford to give something to every single one of you, because it humbles me that you take time out of your lives to visit my little blog.

When I started thinking about prizes, I'll admit I had a hard time. I have quite a few international followers and didn't want to leave them out by just offering books that I couldn't afford to ship to them. So the winner, if international, will receive a $30.00 Amazon gift certificate and if stateside will get their choice of either the gift certificate or all of the following fantabulous ARCs, 
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake by the aforementioned Aimee Bender

To enter, just be a follower (+2 for old followers, +1 for new ones) and leave a comment on this post. You can also gain extra entries by doing the following:

  • +5 for blogging about this giveaway (leave a link to the post with your comment).
  • +2 for tweeting or mentioning the giveaway on facebook or myspace (just leave a link with your comment).
Just comment and let me know how many entries you have. The giveaway will close Friday, November 19th at midnight EST. I'll announce the winner, chosen by random.org, on Saturday, November 20th.

Thanks again!

Updates and Apologies

I felt like such a slacker when I realized I'd only posted once to the blog last week. NaNo has kept me busy. Although I'm a little bit behind where I would like to be, I did manage to pass 10,000 words over the weekend. And I must say I'm having fun not editing. I never thought I would utter those words, but I read a terrific article by Stephen King that really hit home with me. One of his suggestions on writing successfully was this:
Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule. You think you might have misspelled a word? O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer's trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later. Why not? Did you think it was going to go somewhere? And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don't have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland? You can check it ... but later. When you sit down to write, write. Don't do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.
I've followed his advice while writing this week and let me tell you it's fantastic and freeing and lots of other wonderful adjectives that I will not use a thesaurus to look up right now.  You can read the entire article here, and I encourage you to do so.

I also finished reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and all I can say is WOW. Please read this book if you haven't already and tell everyone you know to read it also.

I passed it along to my teenage son. It is so powerfully written and Ms. Anderson really nailed the teen voice.

My fantabulous follower giveaway will be revealed this week so stay tuned for that, and for my fellow NaNoers, in the words of  Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, "Never give up, never surrender!"

Book Review - Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

From Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
I’m almost ashamed to say it, but this book was my first official taste of Steampunk. I know, I know, I’m behind the times.
Clockwork Angel is actually a prequel to the Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass).  I’ve heard they are faster paced than this one and I’ve already added them to my extensive TBR pile. However, I loved this book and I didn’t find the pace too slow.
I found the characters vibrant and strong willed. Even Tessa was spunky considering the historical time period. Will and Jem had such a great rapport with each other and the love triangle between the three of them kept me on the edge of my seat wondering who Tessa would choose.
I also found the Steampunk genre fantastically inventive and Cassandra Clare described old London so vividly that it seemed like an additional character in the story.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an intriguing read.

NaNoWriMo Prep

As some of you know, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. A NaNo virgin, of sorts. Now that there is less than a week left, I'm beginning to panic. I have a great protag for my YA Paranormal, and I know her motivation, but a plot on how to get her to the end of the book? Basically nonexistent.  I've been researching plot over the last few days and I ran across this list of thirty-six types:

  1. Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from an authority)
  2. Deliverance
  3. Crime pursued by vengeance
  4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
  5. Pursuit
  6. Disaster
  7. Falling prey to cruelty of misfortune
  8. Revolt
  9. Daring Enterprise
  10. Abduction
  11. The enigma (temptation or a riddle)
  12. Obtaining
  13. Enmity of kinsmen
  14. Rivalry of kinsmen
  15. Murderous Adultery
  16. Madness
  17. Fatal imprudence
  18. Involuntary crimes of love
  19. Slaying of a kinsmen unrecognized
  20. Self-sacrificing for an ideal
  21. Self-sacrificing for kindred
  22. All sacrificed for passion
  23. Necessity of sacrificing loved ones
  24. Rivalry of superior and inferior
  25. Adultery
  26. Voluntary crimes of love
  27. Discovery of the dishonor of a loved one
  28. Obstacles to love
  29. An enemy loved
  30. Ambition
  31. Conflict with a God
  32. Mistaken jealousy
  33. Erroneous judgement
  34. Remorse
  35. Recovery of a lost one
  36. Loss of loved ones
Now, most of the novels I've read contain multiple items on this list, but it does give me a lot to think about for my own story.

On the other hand, I read a fantastic article by Kristi Jenkins of The Editorial Department about plot being...well...not so important. So maybe I'm not in such bad shape after all.

Either way, I have lots of writer friends to support me along the way. I've even joined a Facebook group (nanowrimowarriors@groups.facebook.com) started by the amazing Lia Keyes. There are plenty of great links, information and inspiration to go around, so join us if you get the chance. And if you are participating in NaNo this year, buddy me!

I will try to keep the blog churning during the month of November, but I fear posts will be a bit sporadic (unless by some miracle I manage a 10,000 word day). I will also be running an awesome follower giveaway sometime in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out!

YASpooktacular: Tales From Under The Grave Is Here!

What is the YA Spooktacular? Stories! We have compiled TWO spooky YA stories by some of your favorite authors, debut authors and aspiring writers. You will get to trick-or-treat to other blogs and follow the story of your choice--or even both stories! At the end of the stories, you will have a chance to enter to win a grand prize pack! (We will even have a Book Depository gift card for international participants to win!)

The rules are pretty simple:  

  • You must comment on EVERY post in a story to be eligible to win the grand prize pack. 
  • You MAY enter for both stories.
  • The forms are a must to be entered.
  • Winners will be selected at random.

We're so pumped about this event. We hope that you are too! Follow the hashtag on Twitter #YAspooktacular for access to some behind the scenes fun. The last part of each story will be posted on the 28th. The prize packs will go up on the 29th and the contest closes on the 31st. Basically, clear your calendar.

Now, cozy up to the screen with your favorite beverage and read Story #2, Part 4. Oh, and that noise you hear in the other room? It's probably nothing.

The words were on repeat inside Sami’s head when she walked into the house.They were the same words that the man said to the dead librarian. Dead librarian...why was she having these weird dreams—and how had she gotten to the library anyway?

Everything was frazzled. The woman, the dreams, Dylan. Up until today she was convinced he didn’t know she was alive, let alone know her name. And the darkness of his eyes reminded her of the man’s eyes in her dream. They were identical. 

Sami was halfway up the stairs to her bedroom when she heard voices in the kitchen and the smell of sugar cookies floating in the air. She had forgotten about her little sister's Halloween slumber party. It was all Gabby could talk about for the last two weeks. If Sami's head wasn't preoccupied with dead librarians and Dylan, she would have noticed all the orange and black streamers and balloons that decorated the house when she entered. 

Sami's mom was in the kitchen with Gabby, baking cookies for the slumber party. After her fight with Rosie, Sami decided she wasn't going to Alex Cooper's party; instead she would stay home and help her mom entertain a bunch of sever-year-olds. Now, she wasn't in the mood for either.

"Where did you wander off to?" her mom asked. She had orange frosting smeared across her beige apron and flour in her chestnut colored hair making it look gray.

Drawing the book closer to her chest, Sami said, "The library."

"On a Friday afternoon?"

"Yeah. I have a project due on Monday," Sami lied.

"Well wash up and grab an apron. We've got plenty of cookies that still need decorating," her mom said.

She made a face and leaned against the wall. She could stay here and babysit or she could go to the party. She already had a costume--and Dylan Harris was expecting her, but Sami hated disappointing Gabby. Maybe she could do both. 
"About the sleepover--"

"You're not bailing on me, are you?" her mom asked, looking up from a half-frosted pumpkin cookie.

Sami looked away. "Remember that party I told you about?" Sami asked.

Her mom nodded as she made tiny triangle eyes on one of the pumpkin cookies. She smiled lightly. "Can I get an hour out of you?" Sami nodded and sat the book on the table to help her mother.

Later in her room, Sami opened her closet and pulled out her costume for tonight's party. Before the falling out with Rosie, they were going to Alex's party as twin witches. They had spend weeks making their dresses together. Rosie designed them and Sami stitched them together. She didn't have time to get a new costume for tonight. But she was proud of the dress she created. Sami was going as one of the witches. She hoped Rosie wouldn't be there or at least had decided on a new costume. 

Sami pulled the dress down and disappeared into the bathroom.

This portion of the story was written by the talented Danielle Tauscher. You can visit her at her blog  http://danielletauscher.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter @StoryByDt.

Make sure to visit Claire at YA Bookie Monster for the next installment, and don't forget to leave a comment on this post to be entered for the grand prize.

If you missed the beginning of Story Two you can find it here.
And don't forget to check out story one!



My Haunted Hometown - The Culbertson Mansion

Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.
                                                         ARTHUR C. CLARKE, 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, Indiana, was the home of William Culbertson, once the richest man in the state. Built in 1867 at a cost of $120,000, this French Second Empire-style mansion has 25 rooms within 20,000 square feet, and was completed in November 1869.

Features within the three-story edifice include frescoed ceilings, a carved rosewood and mahogany staircase, marble fireplaces, fabric wallpaper and crystal chandeliers. The tin roof was imported from Scotland.

The house has seen many owners and changes since Culbertson and his family roamed the hallways. At the time of his death, William Culbertson willed the home to his third wife who sold it at auction in 1899 for $7,100. During the past century it has belonged to the American Legion and would have been torn down to make way for a gas station if the local historical society hadn't intervened in the late 1960's.

In 1985, the carriage house behind the mansion was opened as a haunted attraction during the month of October. It has raised nearly $600,000 since, with all the proceeds going to a restoration fund. The first floor of the mansion is completely finished and the second floor is well on its way.

Every year, the kids and I head over to the main house for ghost stories. For the admission price of two dollars, we get to trek by candlelight up the long winding staircase to the highest room in the home. There we hear about all the odd happenings that have taken place in the mansion including a small stuffed doll that moves from bed to bed in the children's room, and Misty, the ghost cat, that has been seen walking up and down the main staircase when the moon is full.

There have been inexplicable noises -- footsteps, murmurs, and door slamming -- and sightings of a ghost dubbed the "lady in gray".

The creaky floorboards and the wind whistling through the lone attic window always add to the experience. Every year as we're making our was back down the steps, I tell the kids to watch out for the cat. I've never seen Misty, but I figure it's good to be prepared.

My Haunted Hometown - The Seelbach Hotel

The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always -- take any form -- drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!
                                                                              Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

The Seelbach Hotel, located in Louisville, Kentucky, was opened in 1905 with an original cost of approximately $990,000. The rich and infamous have visited the hotel over the years, including Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who even featured the hotel in his novel The Great Gatsby as the location of Tom and Daisy Buchanan's wedding. "The Hustler," starring Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman featured scenes shot in the old Seelbach billiard room (now the Oakroom, the hotel's 5-diamond restaurant).

But perhaps the most famous resident of the hotel is Patricia Wilson, also known as the lady in blue. In 1936, Wilson, age 24, had moved to Louisville from Oklahoma with her husband. Four years later, they were separated. Trying to work things out, the couple agreed to meet at the Seelbach for a romantic weekend, only Patricia's husband never showed. He was killed in a car accident on the way to their rendezvous. Patricia was devastated by the loss. Later that day, her body was found at the bottom of a service elevator shaft in the hotel. No one seems to know whether it was an accident or if she deliberately jumped.

In 1987, different staff members reported seeing Patricia Wilson on both the Mezzanine Level and the eighth floor. In both cases, a woman in a blue dress with long black hair was seen walking into the elevator, despite the fact that its doors were closed.

In April 2004, a couple on their honeymoon awoke to find their room freezing cold and the overpowering scent of a woman's perfume in the air. Others have reported disembodied footsteps in the hallway and electrical objects turning off and on.

For over 100 years, the Seelbach has been a place for the weary traveler as well as the unexplained.

I've been there several times including my senior prom, but have yet to experience the lady in blue. While it's thrilling to think about, I would probably be terrified in reality. I'll stick to watching Ghost Hunters.

My Haunted Hometown - Waverly Hills

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
~William Shakespeare

Waverly Hills Sanatorium
In the early 1900's, Northern Kentucky was ravaged by an outbreak of the "White Plague" otherwise known as tuberculosis. This prompted the construction of a new state of the art TB hospital.

The building that still stands in Louisville, Kentucky, was opened in 1926 with 435 patient beds, but by 1932, patient numbers had increased to 480 with nearly 100 applicants on a waiting list.

The sprawling 160,000 square foot facility was comprised of five stories and a basement. Like other tuberculosis sanatoriums, it was situated on a hill because elevation to drier, purer air was thought beneficial to sufferers.

Nearly 8000 patients died there from 1926 to 1961 when the hospital was closed. In order to keep up patient morale, a body chute was constructed to dispose of the dead so they would not be visible to the remaining patients. This "death tunnel" stretched 525 feet underground to the bottom of the hill where the bodies of the deceased were collected by the family or cremated.

The sanatorium currently hosts tours with all proceeds going to restoration of the building. The current owners plan on turning it into a bed and breakfast for ghost lovers. If you visit Waverly Hills today, there is a good chance you might run into the spirit of a child that haunts the third floor and has been known to play with toys brought in by visitors. You might also hear the disembodied voices of children chanting "Ring Around The Rosy" up on the roof, encounter an apparition of one of the two nurses who died in room 502, or cross paths with the shadow people of the fourth floor.

The sanatorium has been featured on Ghost Hunters, Scariest Places On Earth, Most Haunted and earlier this month on The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures.

Are you adventurous at heart? Would you spend the night at Waverly Hills?

Queen of Procrastination

I never thought of myself as a procrastinator, but I've come to the sad conclusion that I'm wrong. NaNo is looming and I'm not getting anything done that I need to get done.

Let me take you through a typical writing session over the last two days (cue Queen's "Under Pressure"):

  • Open new document in Word
  • Try to locate note cards for this outlining thing I'm trying
  • Notice my shredder is getting full 
  • Empty shredder since tomorrow is trash day
  • Pause to watch miner emerge from gerbil tube *tear up because his kid is crying*
  • Wonder how many pages will be in this chapter
  • Consider using chapter titles instead of just numbers
  • Wonder how many chapters there are in Jane Eyre
  • Run to my bookshelf to see (XXXVIII, if you're wondering)
  • How many chapters is that in actual numbers? (38)
  • Realize I have a headache *take some Tylenol*
  • Oh, look, another miner
  • Return to Word document 
  • Type one sentence and stare at it
  • Wow, I never filed that nail that I chipped today at work *file nail*
  • Locate note cards on the floor under the desk
  • Try to put note cards back in order
  • See a spider crawling on the ceiling
  • Watch it to make sure it doesn't decide to drop into my hair
  • How many of these miners are left?
  • Picture a clown car shaped like a gerbil tube *smile*
  • Realize it's really getting late *yawn*
  • Better get a good night's sleep so I can start fresh tomorrow.
  • Word count  - 19

Awesome Piles Of Awesomeness

As you can tell from the title of this post, there are wonderful things happening today.

First, thanks to Tessa for awarding me the Cherry On Top blog award. Her blog is beautiful and fun and not to be missed. You should definitely check it out.

I am now supposed to answer this question:

If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you, and what would it be?

My answer: I would most definitely have stayed in college and finished my degree. Oh, there are lots of legitimate excuses I could give for why I didn't, but they are still just excuses. At the time, I assumed I couldn't be a Mom and work full time and go to school too. Back then I hadn't yet realized how strong I was. Now I know if I would have put my mind to it, I could have finished. Sure it might have taken me a little longer than the average student, but I could have done it. I try to pass that attitude along to my kids.

I also wanted to pass along a fantastic contest that Beth Revis is having on her blog. Just write about an awesome adventure you've had and link to your post on her blog. The winner gets a signed and doodled ARC of  her highly anticipated novel Across The Universe. Yes, I said doodled. Isn't that cool?

Believe me when I say you should want this one. Have you read the first chapter?

Last, but certainly not least...drumroll...I have reached 100 followers! Please know that I love each and every one of you.  I am so thankful that you choose to spend a little bit of your time with me now and then. The people I've met in the writing/blogging community are amazing and supportive and wonderful.

A giveaway is forthcoming as soon as I decide on a fantabulous prize.

Monster Mash

I'm headed to my local Harvest Homecoming festival this weekend and intend to eat my way through it. The downtown streets are closed and vendors from all across the country converge on our quiet little community. There are 352 booths this year that peddle everything from apple dumplings to authentic gyros. There are handmade crafts and jewelry, but the food is the big draw. The kids and I wouldn't miss it and the weather is supposed to be spectacular.

There is a wonderful giveaway going on this week that I wanted to pass along. Quinn over at Seeing, Dreaming...Writing has reached 100 followers (yay Quinn!) and is giving away a $40.00 Amazon gift card plus a query or chapter critique in celebration of this momentous occasion. Contest ends 10/9 so hurry!

I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Carolyn V. who awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. Her own blog is simply wonderful. You should check it out.

I am going to be part of the Tales From Under The Grave blogfest that will run from October 22nd through the 31st. I promise giveaways, ghost stories and CANDY! More details to come as the date looms closer...muwahahaha!

The week of October 17th, I will be doing a series of posts about My Haunted Hometown. I had no idea the places around me were so scary. So cozy up to the screen and share some truly terrifying tales with me over a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine (hmmm...choices, choices).

I'm closing in on 100 followers myself. Of course there will be a contest, but I can't decide on a prize. That's where you come in. Tell me which new book you've been dying to read. The one at the tippy-top of you list. We'll see how things turn out. Maybe I'll give away several.

As always, have a great weekend!

Memories of Halloweens Past

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. First, there's the candy. M&Ms are my number one, although Snickers are a pretty close second. Then, there's pumpkin carving. If you've never stuck your hand into a pumpkin and yanked its guts out, you haven't lived.

I also consider myself a horror movie aficionado and there is no better time of year to watch them. I prefer the classics: Dracula, Halloween, Night Of The Living Dead and The Exorcist to name a few.

All of the above mentioned items are great, but the costumes are the absolute best part of Halloween. My Aunt made the most wonderful ones for me every year. In chronological order, I was a fairy princess, a witch, Raggedy Ann, a clown, a witch again (loved the green face paint), Sandy from Grease, a gypsy, a hobo, Wonder Woman, an Egyptian queen, a sock hop sweetie (poodle skirt, of course) and the grim reaper (by the time I was thirteen I wanted to scare the crap out of someone. No more cutesy costumes for me).

When I wore a costume, I could be a totally different person and I loved it. I could act completely opposite of my "normal".

Isn't that what we do as writers when we breathe life into a fictional character? We get to shape their actions and personality like a lump of clay. We can make them dark and disturbed or pure as snow. They can go places that we never will and do things that would be unthinkable for us to do ourselves. This is the fun part of being a writer. Sure, it's hard work sometimes, but for me this is the good stuff.

Do you have a favorite Halloween memory or a special way of celebrating?


Well, this will be my first year trying to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This will be a tall order for me because I find it nearly impossible not to edit as I write. This also means I will be outlining (also a tall order for me) the month of October in an attempt not to get to the middle of November and wonder where on earth I was going with the plot.

For those of you who haven't heard of it yet, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short) has run from November 1st to November 30th every year for the past eleven. The goal is to write a novel in thirty days or at least get a damn good start on one. Back in 1999 there were only 21 participants, but this year they expect over 175,000.

And I have to tell you, I'm kind of excited about it. I'm more motivated with a deadline and this is quite a deadline.

I also noticed while browsing the NaNo site that there is a Young Writers Program where kids 17 and under can participate by setting their own word count goal. This sounds like something my aspiring writer daughter might be interested in (plus it might keep her occupied while Mom is writing). She's been working on a great idea for a chapter book, so we'll see.

Now, who's with me? I can use all the support I can get.  Here I am. Won't you join me?

Mash-up Blogfest

The wonderful and funny Steph Sinkhorn is having a Mash-up blogfest today at her blog, Maybe Genius.

We had to write a story, 1000 words or less, that combines two genres that are normally not seen together. Here is my feeble attempt at a Women's fiction/Paranormal, which I've affectionately termed a ParaWom.

The fading sun left bursts of  crimson clouds feathered along the horizon. Theresa pretended to wonder where Michael was even though she knew the unkind truth.

She closed her eyes and fought to remember a time when everything was less complicated, when the words I love you meant simply that. He would never be hers alone. The life he'd promised her had been nothing more than a fantasy.

Standing at the balcony, she looked out onto the beach below knowing it would all be over soon. She silently rehearsed the speech she'd prepared, had been preparing for a month, ever since intercepting the email sent to him from the escort agency. A girl they'd employed had been murdered, drained of blood, and the police had forced them to turn over their client list. They would probably be questioning him soon and wanted him to be prepared. When Theresa had asked him about it, he'd denied any involvement, but she knew.

His lies would end tonight.

She touched the stake, moved her fingers along the wood, marveled at how smooth it was, how impartial. Michael owed her so much more than this, and he was going to pay.

When he opened the door she was waiting, holding the weapon behind her back. Her hands shook, a sign of weakness that sickened her. The surprised look on his face only confirmed she was doing the right thing. He'd even forgotten she was meeting him for dinner.

He started to speak but she interrupted. "Don't say anything, Michael. You're going to listen to me for once."

She motioned for him to sit but he didn't budge. "Stand or sit, it doesn't make any difference. You'll be dead soon."

Finally the reaction she'd been waiting for. He stumbled back toward the chair, almost falling into it. "Theresa, honey, this is crazy. I love you." His voice cracked on the word love.

"You love me? If you love me so much you would give them up!"

He made a move to stand. She showed him the stake and he sat back down. She could see the tips of his fangs as he fought back a snarl.

"Of course I love you. I want to be with you, Theresa, you know that." His fingers shook as he loosened his tie and attempted a smile. "But you have to understand, I need it."

She walked closer, powerless to resist the pull of his gaze, and leaned against his chest. When his arm slipped around her waist, she tilted her head granting him access to the part of her body he loved most.

"No more prostitutes, my darling, I promise," he said running his lips down her neck.

Theresa drove the stake up through his stomach under the rib cage, piercing his heart with no hesitation. She stepped away from him as he crumpled and fell forward onto the floor, his head bouncing off the glass coffee table on the way down.

He twitched as she knelt beside him. Black blood pooled around her knees as she whispered in his ear, "I should have been enough."

Thanks so much for reading my little piece of  Mash-up flash fiction. I'm a little late getting this post up so you've probably already seen them, but if you haven't, don't forget to visit all of the other blogs participating.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wait, What's A Thesis Statement?

I would normally post tonight, it being Wednesday and all, but I am tied up with shrews. The northern short-tailed shrew to be exact, as my daughter failed to tell me she needed help with her research paper due Friday morning. Did I mention she hasn't started yet?

It's been a while since I had to write a research paper and I'm struggling just a little bit (a lot, actually). So I will be back on Friday with a hopefully wonderful post about my writing journey.  I would like to leave you with a picture of the subject of this research paper:
Oh sure, he's cute now. But I see nightmares about a giant version in my near future.
What's the last thing that yanked you away from your normal blogging or writing schedule?

Book To Movie Preview

I love movies almost as much as I love books, so when the two are combined, I just can't resist. Here are my most anticipated for 2011.

                                    Jane Eyre - release date March 11, 2011.
Jane is played by Mia Wasikowska who was also Alice in the most recent Wonderland.

               Beastly written by Alex Flinn due out March 18, 2011.

Water For Elephants written by Sara Gruen with a release date of April 15, 2011.
Starring Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski 

Winnie The Pooh written by A.A. Milne will be revamped and released in July, 2011.
Who can resist?

One For The Money written by Janet Evanovich will be released in movie form in July, 2011.
Starring Ana Reeder as Connie, Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum and Sherri Shepherd as Lula.

And last but not least, The Invention Of Hugo Cabret written by Brian Selznick
due out December, 2011.
Directed by the genius that is Martin Scorsese.

Of course, there are a few books to movies coming out before the end of the year I'm excited about also, including Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, just in time for my birthday in November.

Are there any books to movies you're looking forward to or books you've always wanted to see made into movies?

Writing Compelling Characters aka The Great Blogging Experiment

First, I would like to thank Elana, Jen and Alex for my blog topic today and also welcome all of you taking part in The Great Blogging Experiment. I'm stop 132 if you're following in numerical order.

When I sat down to write this post I expected it to be easy-peasy. After all, character development is my thing. I've got so many people in my head screaming at me on a daily basis to let them out onto the page that I sometimes talk to them more than my own family. (No, not out loud. Well, not lately.) But it really is difficult to describe what makes a character compelling.

A character's appeal is probably different for everyone, and dependent on each reader's life experiences. However, I find three things are critical when developing a memorable character:

      1. You must be able to put yourself in a character's shoes.

Whether your character is a pig living on a farm with a gifted spider, or the reclusive owner of a chocolate factory, a reader has to be able to relate to them. Everyone has problems and your characters should be no different.

      2. Your character has to want something so bad, they would do almost 
          anything to get it.

This doesn't have to be something physical, although that could be a starting point. More often it's emotionally driven: a desire for love, power, or simply acceptance.

      3. Give your character an arc.

Nobody wants to read about a character that never changes. Even the good girl who treats everyone like an angel, or the bad boy who would rather spit on you than look at you get BORING if they don't grow during the course of a story. This change can be subtle or dramatic, just make sure it's included.

For me, character is the best part of a story. It's what keeps me turning the pages into the wee hours even though I know I'll feel like crap the next day. It's what I remember about a book and hold within my heart like a good friend.

Thanks for stopping by my little piece of the blogosphere and don't forget to head over to the next stop. I'll be right behind you (not in a weird, creepy sort of way though).

I'm Down With ODE

The Oxford Dictionary of English has added a new list of words to its pages. My ten favorites are listed below. You can view the entire list here:

  1. BROMANCE - a close but non-sexual relationship between two men
  2. HATER - negative person
  3. DEFRIEND - another term for unfriend (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site)
  4. STEAMPUNK - a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advance technology
  5. FRENEMY - a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry
  6. DICTIONARY ATTACK - an attempt to gain illicit access to a computer system by using a very large set of words to generate potential passwords
  7. BUZZKILL - a person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect
  8. MICROBLOGGING - the posting of very short entries on a blog
  9. FREEMIUM - a business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for
  10. EXIT STRATEGY - a pre-planned means of extricating oneself from a situation
I was surprised that some of these words weren't already there (steampunk, bromance) but I guess that's because I use them so often. Keeping my fingers crossed for ASSHAT next year.

What words would you like to see added to the dictionary?

News and Happenings

Happy Friday! I never thought it would get here. So much great stuff going on around the blogosphere right now, I thought I would pass it along.

The wonderful Marieke is doing a new series of posts on her blog called How To Thursdays. Every two weeks she'll have a great industry professional over to talk about writing, editing, critting and literary theory. Her first interview with Leah Cypress (author of Mistwood, Greenwillow) is up, and there's a bonus giveaway too!

Everyone wants to increase followers and Rachel Harrie is going to help us do just that. She's kicking off a Writers' Platform Building Crusade on her blog. It's a great way to meet other writers.

Have you all congratulated the beautiful and talented Elana Johnson on the fantabulously gorgeous cover for her upcoming novel Possession? Yay Elana!

From the epic, epicness of WriteOnCon.com has sprung a new writer's group called The Voice. A place where some of us who met during that awesome online conference go to critique each other's work, provide support and encouragement, and sometimes just hang out. We are also planning to start live online group meetings which I'm particularly excited about since I haven't been able to find a writer's group in my area. We'd love to have you join us.

There are four writing blogfests upcoming that should each be a lot of fun:

  1. Blogfeast 9/23/10
  2. Mash-up Blogfest 10/1/10
  3. They're People Too Blogfest 10/2/10
  4. Bad News Blogfest 10/3/10
Do you have a contest or "fest" coming up that I missed? If so, please leave it in the comments.

Here's hoping your weekend is long and the writing comes easy! Ciao, my lovelies.

I Have To Do WHAT?

So I've been participating in a lot of blog hops lately and have found some really fantastic and interesting blogs out there. I've also found a surprising number of people with an unnatural attachment to cats(you know who you are).

Here's the thing. If you know people have a fixed amount of time to visit X number of blogs, do you have to make it so darn difficult to navigate yours? Some of the blogs made me feel like this guy,
and some of the blogs didn't even have anything posted about the "hop", leaving me feeling like I'd been taken advantage of(and not in a good way). If you know hundreds of people are going to be looking at your blog on a specific date, I think it's your obligation to at least let them know they're in the right place.

Don't get me wrong, there were some wonderful bloggers who acknowledged how valuable my time was and didn't even ask me to follow their blog in order to enter for prizes. I followed each and every one of them. Just so you don't think I'm a total fill in the blank, I also followed some of the more "difficult" blogs because the content was great, and others because OMG! I HAD TO HAVE THAT PRIZE!

I know the idea of hops are to increase your followers, I get it, but you shouldn't piss people off that are visiting for the first time, should you?
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