Sunday, October 23, 2011


I’m not much for horror stories. For example, the year I made it through about a third of The Exorcist with my hubby…I couldn’t go down into the basement for MONTHS. He literally had to rig a light switch in our kitchen that would turn on lights and a radio  in the basement so I could go throw in a load of laundry. In broad daylight.

Yep. Not good with horror stories.       

I had an encounter with an Ouija board when I was 16, which probably explains my fascination and terror when it comes to stories that have to do with spirits and evil and the like. (By the way, vampires don’t count. Especially sparkly ones. Just in case you wondered.)

The Ouija Board Story, Part 1:

I was home alone one weekend and a friend brought over the board. We joked and teased each other about it, but ended up lighting candles and turning off all of the lights. I don’t remember what questions we asked or what the answers were from the board – but I do remember that every candle in the room was extinguished simultaneously for no good reason. (Gives me goose bumps just to type that.)

The Ouija Board Story, Part 2:

Later that weekend, I was still home alone. Just me, my dog, and the cats. A huge thunderstorm whipped up and the power went out. No TV, no lights, nothing.

I huddled in an overstuffed chair in the family room (my back to the rest of the house) trying to read a book by flashlight. Strange bumping sounds started up in my basement. The dog perked up her head, looked past my chair into the kitchen….and whined. She was not a whiner, this dog.

The bumping in the basement was erratic. The dog started growling. My heart in my throat, I finally worked up the courage to peek around the edge of my chair toward the kitchen and the basement door. The light over the kitchen table – which should have been dark since the power was out all over town – was glowing red. By this time, my hands were shaking so badly, I couldn’t hold my book still anymore. The occasional lightening lit up the entire house with bright white light – but the glowing red in my kitchen was steady. Every time I looked behind my chair, that light was glowing…and sometimes swinging just a little bit.

I was bolted to my chair, terrified to move. To get to my phone, I would have had to pass the open basement door and walk right through the kitchen. The dog continued to growl and whine and I continued to shiver until the power came back on.

I turned on every single light in the house, pulled the basement door shut and blocked it with a heavy chair, and tried to get some sleep. (What did I think the chair was going to do? Stop some evil from coming up from the basement? GACK! But it somehow made me feel better.)

I picked up The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin a few weeks ago based on the cover.  Little did I know, an eerily familiar scene at the beginning of Ms. Hodkin’s story would suck me right in. Teenage girls huddled around an Ouija board… And I’ll just tell you this story gets much spookier than a glowing red light over a kitchen table!

Keep a flashlight handy. And maybe a generator. Just in case. You definitely want the lights on when you’re reading this one.

Have you read any good October Spooky Stories lately?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A writers' challenge -- and a chance to win a free book!

I have a challenge for you: Go dig around on your laptop or under your bed for something you wrote a few years ago. For some of you, it might be only a few months ago. Either way, dig it out and take a look.

Here are the rules:

1.      Be kind to yourself.

2.      Be willing to chuckle at your own writing.

3.      Look for what you were already doing well.

4.      Identify why you are better now at certain aspects of writing craft.

5.      Thank your mentors.

6.      Dabble in editing the piece. But be sure to save your edited version with a new name so you can preserve that writing time capsule. You may need to go back and look at it again some other day.

It is a great thing to be able to look back for the sake of seeing how far you have come.  But don’t gaze that direction for too long. Appreciate your progress – then continue your journey.

Write something new.

Leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a free copy of Seize the Story – a writing craft book for young adult writers. Tell me how the challenge worked for you – or comment on what you’ve learned about your own writing recently. I’ll draw the winner on Sunday, October 16th.