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!
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