Monday, June 18, 2012

1st EVER Follow My Lead Flash Fiction Contest


Welcome to the 1st Follow My Lead Flash Fiction Contest!

I will a hold a Follow My Lead contest, monthly, here at my blog. The contest will begin on the first Friday of the month (with the exception of this first contest.) and will run for two weeks. 

The contestant's entries will be judged on his or her ability to follow the prompt provided, and the writer's overall creative expression. Excited yet??

The contest piece may be merely a Sketch Story . Sketch Stories may contain little or no plot. Click on link to discover more about Sketch Stories and famous authors who wrote them. 

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Check out the deets! (Rules):

~ Entries must be original work of the writer.
~ Only one entry per contestant.
~ 300 words or less.
~ The piece must follow the prompt provided, but may sway in any direction.**See note below
~ The contest piece should be written about the image, in some form or fashion. 
~ The prompt should be used in the story and included in word ct.

Have a blast & be creative. :))

**Please copy and paste your entries directly into the comment section of the post. I prefer to keep my blog rated **PG-13, so if your contest piece is beyond this rating, you can post it on your own blog, and then leave the link in the comments section. If in the future, the monthly contest grows, I will incorporate a Linky list. 

**Clarification on PG-13: Some cursing and PDA is okay, IF it lends itself to story / character.  If the contest piece goes above / beyond on either, please leave a link, and I will visit & read. :)))

My main goal in hosting this contest, is to support other writers. YAY! With that in mind, the prizes will be books or ebooks written by fellow writers within the blogging community, purchased by me. If you'd like your book added to this list of prizes, please email me at *Also, if you'd like to donate your time with providing a manuscript critique, as a prize, email me as well.

Now, can anyone say, PRIZES for this first round?? Ooh, I can hear the buzzing of creative minds already. :)))

For this first contest, there will be three place winners, each receiving an ebook copy of End of Days by the fabulous Roland Yeomans . If you haven't checked out his blog, you must! It's filled with ghostly posts of authors passed, wit & humor galore, writer's tips & advice, and giveaways to the max. Roland is one of the most generous authors on this planet.

1st EVER Follow My Lead Contest dates: Begins today! 
June 18th - Ending June 30th, midnight EST.

In honor of my friend, the talented Roland Yeomans, the first prompt will begin with an amazing image from the streets of New Orleans. Drum roll please? Um, thanks!

Photo from

  Follow My Lead Flash Fiction Prompt:

The streets of this restless city never slept...

Friday, June 15, 2012

When Life Gives You a Face Like This

Get over it, right? No use sticking your head in the mud. Life's too short to spend it moping in the couch. Meet Little Lynn (Yes, she's named after me. If you bring a pet in the house, it gets your name.). I found her 12 years ago in a box of puppies at the pet store. A "Jack-a-poo" as we like to call her. Father: Jack Russell, Mother: Poodle. We sometimes call her Sid the Sloth. 

 "Doesn't anyone love me?"

 Today's message: When life gives you a face like Little Lynn's or Sid's, make the most of it. Be your own kind of beautiful. 

*The clip of Sid is only 12 seconds and adorable.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Long Awaited Visit to the Stanley Hotel

I never thought the day would come. Yet, it did. It's taken me almost a week to collect my thoughts about my experiences at the hotel. Here's my story in images, otherwise, I'd be long-winded and bore you to tears.

Welcome to the Stanley Hotel. Built in 1909, the hotel is located in Estes Park, Colorado. Several of the photos I took, were out of focus. O_O 

I'd blame it on camera, but I took them with my phone, which usually takes beautiful shots, such as the front of the hotel here.

We signed up for a guided tour of the hotel. Unfortunately for us, many of the rooms were booked by a wedding party, so we didn't get to visit the alleged haunted rooms. Here's a picture of the infamous Rm. 217. My daughter and sister-in-law posed for me. This is the room Stephen King stayed in when he was inspired to write, The Shining.

The couch on the fourth floor hallway, the Children's Hallway, is supposedly haunted by several children. The guests leave candy on the couch as rewards for the tiny spirits. Visiting children are asked to sit on the couch to see if they can feel the spirits touch them. Stephen King himself caught sight of a set of twins roaming the hallway the night he stayed at the hotel. 

This was an interesting photo. My husband is sitting in the lower left hand corner in a leather chair. One of the employees is sharing with him that the "spirit children" were playing with his shoelaces. He's quite the skeptic, so he wasn't too impressed. However, I could not get my camera to show the lower half of the photo, no matter what!

I did get the camera to work from a different view, but the table and chairs block the area with the ghostly children. You can see hubby sitting in the chair looking at his shoes. The employee is kneeling down beside him. Check out the guy sitting across from them, hiding in a book!! He's probably thinking, "Don't let me be next!" I caught this fella peeking out from behind his book, watching. Too funny.

Above is one of the many creepy hallways. This one is on the second floor. I was waiting for a head to pop out of one of the doors.

 A haunted staircase. At times, people have taken photos and there are faces in between the railings. I wasn't so lucky.


The banister posts in the main stairwell were hand-carved to represent the four seasons. The original owner's wife, Flora Stanley, insisted on adding Native American details in the architecture.  

Below is a photo of an attic door. Someone thought it would be humorous to paint the word "Redrum" on it. Murder spelled backwards, it's a detail from Stephen King's novel, The Shining.


And then, just when I thought I wasn't going to catch a ghost on my camera, I did. Well, if you count a mist-form as a ghost. I took two photos of this old cave entrance in the basement area of the hotel. One second it was clear and the next, it wasn't. What do you think?

I took a third photo, and it was clear again. The hotel is built on limestone, which contains quartz crystal. The tour guide noted that quartz is known to be a transmitter, so to speak, for energy. Which may account for some of the reported paranormal activity.

Our last part of the visit was not on the tour. We met up with the "employee" I mentioned earlier. She's had some recent physical ailments, which have taken her off the tours. I instantly fell in love with her. She had a gentle spirit. She immediately took to my daughter, and invited us behind closed doors. Literally. We sat with her for over 30 minutes in the roped off Billiard Room while she spoke to the spirit children, and through her, they spoke to us.

An enlightening experience to say the least! She has 10 spirit children who are with her all the time, tugging at her skirt. If I hadn't of seen her skirt being manipulated, by what looked like tiny hand impressions, I wouldn't believe it. She claimed not to be a psychic, but she read us like books. It was amazing. All the things she knew about us was astounding. She made us promise to come back and let her know when we stay the night.

Although the Stanley inspired the novel, The Shining, the movie was not filmed there. Apparently, there wasn't enough snowfall, and it wasn't isolated enough for the producers of the movie. 

Stephen King did go back, years later, when they filmed the series there. The Shining series is a three-part TV miniseries based on the novel. Stephen King had the honor of writing the screenplay. Here's a clip from the series. If you scare easily, don't watch it!

Bustling with bridezillas, simultaneous tours, and sightseers, the grand hotel was a tad too busy to hear any spirits whisper. We didn't get an opportunity to stay the night, but we plan on doing so in the future. I guess I'll have to wait and do some ghost hunting another time.

All in all, we had an extraordinary Stanley Hotel experience. Have any of you ever visited the Stanley? If so, what were your experiences?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Belated Insecure Writer's Support Group & Tattered Cover

The Tattered Cover
All blame for the delay in my IWSG post this month lays on the shoulders of my spectacular, truly amazing Colorado vacation! The clean mountain air has me a little spacey, head in the clouds, literally.

This month, I'm feeling fairly well, so this The Insecure Writer's Support Group post will be geared to inspire others needing a bit of light in their lives. Need a shoulder to lean on? Just ask. Need advice? I'll do my best. :) Need support? You got it! My email is To check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's awesome blog and writer's support group, click on the link above.

Here's a little inspiration.

I’m sitting in one of Denver’s most unique bookstores, the Tattered Cover. Filled with books of all flavors, I’m in book heaven. (Do you wish you were here, too?) I’ve waited years to visit this store. They even have their own printing press called the Tattered Cover Press. After I do a bit of research about the small press, I will post my findings here on my blog.

Wandering around here, a writer can only be inspired. For all you IWSG peeps, IT (the ultimate goal of publication) can be done. 

The scent of printed pages, adorning these shelves, lures me around each corner, beckoning me to graze my fingertips across the artful covers.  Ah, a book-lovers paradise. As I meander the hardwood pathways, I visualize my books, all of them, here. One day, I promise myself.

Being a part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, an online writing community, keeps the hope alive for me. Checking in with my fellow writers once a month forces me to stay in the real. A place where the writer needs to be in order to achieve his or her dreams of success. 

Writing is lonely enough, but without support, one can tumble down a dark hole. Picture slipping down into a creepy, black crevice, without a flashlight, wicked talons from unseen creatures snatching at you from behind damp rock walls, gashing open your knees and elbows as you stumble along the abyss. Writing alone can be a hellish nightmare. 

Adorable display in honor of  Maurice Sendak
Even if you’re a published, well-to-do writer, you can still benefit by joining the IWSG. Helping others, struggling and novice writers, can prove to be an inspiring and rewarding experience. Go ahead, reach out and make someone’s day. 

Note: If I haven't checked by your blog recently, forgive me. I'm trying to make my rounds through the newer IWSG members first. :)) No worries, I won't forget you. 

Stay tuned for my next post about my adventures at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO. 0_0

Friday, June 1, 2012

Look Out "Overlook" Hotel...Here I Come

I'm so thrilled about our trip to Colorado, I have to squeal on myself. I was going to wait and post about my tour of the famous Stanley Hotel, but I can't keep my secret any longer! 

Come nauseating mountainous roads or steep cliffs, I will visit a place I've wanted to see since I read Stephen King's novel, The Shining. (For those who do not know, I'm terrified of mountain driving.) Why do this? Because I have to. Visit the hotel, that is. (Although, I may have to medicate myself and hide on the floor of the backseat.)

I'm a geek for historical places. There's a ton of informative websites about the hotel out there, but Wiki does a nice job here:  The Stanley Hotel.

As for the hotel being haunted, check out this web page on Haunted Places in America  here.

And, if you're a King fan, and you haven't read this recent interview by Neil Gaiman, check it out: Here. Keep in mind, this is a "raw" copy of the interview. So raw and unedited, that I felt as if I was in the room listening to the conversation. King speaks of writing The Shining. Is it possible that King might be working on a new story about the Torrence family?

I'm surprisingly brave when it comes to hunting haunted places. I'm looking forward to the paranormal inspirations the tour will spur. So, if you love a bit of ghost chasing, look for my post later next week. 

Eek!! Is that a ghost in the window?
Photo courtesy of Haunted Places in America