A Quick Note

I know I will be getting a lot of traffic to my little ole blog in the next few weeks, so I feel the need to write a quick post:

Our story was featured on AL.com this morning, and will air on Syfy channel’s Paranormal Witness tomorrow night.

Please know that I have no intention of revealing the exact location of the house in Rockford, out of respect for the owners and the privacy of the people who currently live there.

Also, there are still living relatives of the Rev. Will Maxwell, and they still live in the area.  Please be a good citizen and leave them alone.  They are in no way connected to our personal story, and already have to deal with the past on a regular basis. I do not know them, and have never had the pleasure of meeting them, so I don’t know if they are willing to speak to anyone about things that happened 40 years ago.  I’m sure it was a traumatic time in their lives, and would like to be left alone.  I pray they will not be harassed and I ask that people respect their privacy.

I do plan on posting some of the old blog posts I wrote during the time we lived in the house, but for right now….our book, Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting (Part One) is available through Amazon in digital format.  Part Two will be released in the Fall, and if you are interested in learning more about our story, everything is in the book!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope to post again very soon!

 

 

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Why I Decided to Come Out with Our Story

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In a little over a week, my family’s very personal and very true story will be aired on worldwide network television.

To say that I am nervous would be an understatement.

My main reason for going public with our story is to let other people know (specifically people who have been through or experienced spiritual warfare) that I have been in the trenches, too.

The problem with coming out with such a personal story, especially one that is paranormal in nature….is not the media, not the trolls and not the people who will think our story is ridiculous.  The problem is the people who KNOW that spiritual warfare is REAL, but who refuse to talk about it or acknowledge it.

We live in the Deep South….some call it the Bible Belt.  I’m a Christian, and was raised Southern Baptist….I have lived here all my life, and I know there are good folks down here who would drop everything and rush to your side if you needed help.  I also know there are a ton of “Christians” who would rather warm a pew on Sunday Morning and judge their fellow-man, than to reach out a hand and help someone going through a spiritual battle……OR watch a show that might have something to do with “ghosts” and the things we can’t explain.  I knew we would be judged harshly by the pew-warmer Christians if we decided to go through with telling our story publicly….and that’s ok.  Let them judge if they want to.  They do it daily.

I am not a paranormal researcher, or Ghost Hunter…..but I am willing to lend an ear to those who need someone to talk to about anything they may have experienced.  I am now in a unique position to do so…..because I’ve lived through a paranormal experience myself.  People don’t like to talk about ghosts or demons down here in the South, and you unfairly risk being labeled as “crazy” if you do….but I’m telling you: the world we can’t see is much bigger than the world we can see.  These things happen. And it isn’t always because someone played with a Ouija Board, either.  Spiritual battles are being fought all around us, all the time.  Be brave….don’t be afraid to tell your story.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest before the episode airs.  If you want to watch, it will be the premiere episode of Paranormal Witness on the Syfy Channel, on August 3 at 10/9 CST.

And yes, I have co-authored a book with my friend, Kim Johnston entitled, “Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting” – Part One will be released the same day as our episode of Paranormal Witness. Part Two will be released soon after.   Our reasoning for coming out with the book is to give a more detailed account of the entire story….from beginning to end…..in case people want to know the details.  It will be available on August 3rd on Amazon for those who’d like to read it.

I keep a pretty low profile most of the time, but my website is http://www.haintbluehaunting.com and my email is jenny@haintbluehaunting.com if you would like to contact me with questions, or if you just need someone to listen.

Thank you to all the folks who have supported us through this journey, and who continue to support us.

Jenny Scott

 

A Writer’s Own Story

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m not a first-time writer.  I’ve written things here and there most of my life.  The first thing I remember writing (at the tender age of six) was a comic book about my cat.  Then, later own down the line, I wrote a short story about my grandmother’s dog.  Of course, my grandmother thought it was brilliant.

In high school, I wrote for the school newspaper – The Lion’s Roar.  I didn’t join the paper out of a love for writing, but a love for leaving school early and “selling” ads for the paper…when all we really did was drive around town and eat Taco Bell.

Somehow, I managed to graduate from high school, and get into college, despite having to take remedial math classes, and having to re-take my high school graduation exam (the math section.)

When I got into college, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  I transferred to Auburn University in Auburn, AL from a smaller school with a 4.0 GPA and a declared major of pre-med.  Since Auburn University (main campus) didn’t have a pre-med major track, I had to switch to pre-veterinary medicine.

With my poor math skills, I knew I would never be able to make it through the upper classes required to graduate from vet school, so I changed my major to secondary education.

As the youngest in my family, who had been around young children maybe once or twice in my life…this was a poor decision.  I did an orientation session at the local junior high school for a couple of weeks, a requirement before officially declaring my major in secondary education.  It was a nightmare.  The younger generation repulsed me.  I thought they were bratty, self-entitled, immature and annoying.  I am speaking of the first round of “The Millennials” – although I didn’t know they would be called by that name, at the time.

Even though my orientation had been a disaster, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I’d already changed my major twice, and it was a pain in the butt to change majors.  I kept attending the secondary education classes, and made decent scores, but one class changed my path forever:  Journalism 100.

Journalism 100 was a required core class for those who wanted to pursue an education degree, or a philosophy degree.  The professor of Journalism 100 was  Jack Smith.  He was a retired newspaper man… once a hard-hitting journalist who had covered major events spanning the Civil Rights Movement to the Kopper Kettle explosion in Auburn in the 1970’s. He was skinny and tall with white hair and black-rimmed glasses.  He looked exactly like an old journalist.

Although I knew he had a passion for his old profession, I could tell he resented having to teach this generation of Gen X-ers.  He came from “The Greatest Generation” – his generation had lived through WWII, The Atomic Age, The Sixties, The Vietnam War,  The Great Recession of the 1970’s and the economic boom of the 1980’s.  The kids who sat before him in class every day (present company included) were essentially lazy, video game and pop culture addicted airheads.  We were also carrying around a sense of entitlement, and if something we owned broke….we just threw it away and mommy and daddy bought us a new one.  No big deal.  We were 80’s kids.  We had lived through one of the most prosperous economic times in history, and we thought the world was our collective oyster, with little to no hard work on our part. I sympathized with Jack Smith…I had felt the same disdain for those “Millennials” I had to help teach during my orientation period months earlier.

One of the last assignments I had to complete for Jack Smith was a news article known as a “feature story.” – I don’t remember what I wrote about, but I remember him pulling me aside one day after class.

“What’s your major, young lady?” he asked me.

“Secondary education, sir.” I replied, trying my best not to sound like a timid, brainless college girl.

“You need to change your major.” he said as he handed me back my paper.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, and my face beginning to turn fifty shades of red.  Here it comes, I thought. I’m about to get hammered.

I looked down at the paper he handed me, and it was my feature story……with an “A+” in bright, red ink on the top.

“You’re a fantastic writer.” he said.  “Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different.”

I looked up at him, and he smiled and patted me on the shoulder.  I had never received a compliment like that from anyone….about anything I’d ever written.  It gave me the confidence I needed….here was an old journalism man, telling me that I was a great writer.  I was floored.  I decided to take the compliment and let it soak in.

I changed my major to journalism the next day.  As I was touring the hallways of Tichenor Hall, the building where I would be spending the rest of my time in college, I saw him in the front office.

“I hope you’re here to change your major!” he said, looking at down at me over the tops of his black horn-rimmed glasses.

“Yes sir.  I did it yesterday.  I’m a journalism major now.” I said, smiling.

“Great!  Your paper was one of the best I’ve read in a long time.  You’ve got a way with words.” he said.  “But journalism isn’t easy.  You’re at battle with yourself most of the time, and you’re gonna feel like you like you want to quit.  But just remember….tell the story and you’ll be just fine.”

He gave me another pat on the shoulder, smiled and walked away.

Journalism was hard.  I had some tough professors: Nan Fairley, Dr. Jerry Brown, Ed Williams, Judy Sheppard, William White and Gillis Morgan.  My time in Tichenor Hall was no picnic.  I even found myself writing for the school newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.  My workload was so tough, I had to give up almost everything else….my job, my place in the Auburn University Marching Band, my fiance and my weekends home to visit my parents.

I doubled up on my classes, so I could graduate in 1999.  I never took a Summer off.

I completed my required internship at The Phenix Citizen newspaper in Phenix City, Alabama.  The Phenix Citizen was owned and managed by two wonderful, but tough newspaper folks, Mike Venable and Jill Tigner. They taught me to stop being such a self-deprecating, timid Gen-Xer, and to just get the damn story.  I also learned how to do some ad design….so I could know how the ENTIRE newspaper business worked, and not just the little part I had learned about in school.  I wrote obits, helped manage subscriptions, followed the ad executives around, answered the telephone and did my best to not collapse from exhaustion.  I popped (now illegal) energy pills to keep up with my duties, so I wouldn’t fail my internship, and flunk out of college.

The last day of my internship, I received the news that my father was dying of cancer, a secret that had been kept from me out of my parents’ fear that I would quit college.  I would have quit.  They know I would have.

The day I graduated from Auburn University, my dad had just gotten out of the hospital from having surgery on his lung, to try to remove a cancerous tumor the size of a grapefruit.  He was weak, but determined to be there to see me graduate.  He had also scrimped and saved to buy me a class ring.  Hot tears spilled down his cheeks when he gave it to me, and I hugged him as I sobbed because we both knew he wasn’t going to live much longer. It was a small, feminine class ring with a blue sapphire.   I call it “My Daddy’s Teardrop” – and it’s worth more to me than anything else I own.

My dad passed away four months later.  He was 55 years old.  I was only 22.

After my dad passed, I got several jobs here and there, writing feature stories for magazines, designing ads and advertorial pages, but I was tired of journalism.  I hated writing, and was completely burned out.  So, I had a college degree that had cost me $14,000 after my Pell Grant and various other fees….plus, it had cost me blood, sweat, tears and three years of my life working non-stop to “be something” or “do something” important in life.  I was in deep depression and I couldn’t see my own self-worth.  I didn’t care about writing, when writing was probably the ONE thing I needed to do most.  I kept everything bottled up for years.  I eventually got a job as a graphics designer at a couple of different newspapers through the next ten years, and even did some freelance writing before I gave it all up entirely and stayed home to raise my children.  I didn’t write through my pain of having a child diagnosed with autism, or the pain of divorce, or the pain of not having a direction in life other than changing diapers, wiping noses and worrying about the future.

But that burning need to write never left me.  I tried to shut it up by painting, or knitting, sewing or taking photos…..anything creative that would quench the thirst of writing.  I did write a mommy blog for a local magazine, but I felt that everything I wrote was total crap.  I deleted it all.  Self-loathing, depression and alcoholism seem to plague writers, and I was staring all three right in the face.

I felt like I’d failed at everything I’d started.

Then, when I was at one of my lowest points of self-loathing, my husband came home from work with a gift for me.

“Do you remember a man named Ed Williams?” my husband asked.

“Of course I do!  He was one of the best professors I ever had….and the toughest!”

“He gave me this to give to you.” he said as he handed me a small object.

It was a small coin.

I looked down at the coin and read the words: “All things are possible with faith.”

On the back, it read, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.”  – There was a tiny mustard seed encased in resin on the front.

How did my own former professor know I was struggling?

I’d branded myself a complete and total failure, and as if prodded by the people who believed in me, the people who trained me and taught me everything I knew about writing,  I began to write again.

And so I wrote.

And wrote.

Now, my manuscript is in the hands of an editor, and fellow journalist, who knows what I’ve been through.  She knows the struggles of a writer….the nagging self-loathing, the pain of losing a parent, and she knows the vulnerable writer’s soul.

I’m still nervous.  And I still think everything I write is total crap….even though Jack Smith told me my writing was great…and not to let anyone tell me any different.

I use commas incorrectly, I hate colons and semicolons, I struggle with the correct tense and I’m addicted to ellipses…..I use rather, very, little, pretty and really…..those words Strunk and White say to banish.  I don’t “Omit Needless Words” like I should, and that’s just some of the structural stuff.

I could beat myself up all day long.  But here it is:  I’m an insecure, timid writer with more fear and loathing than Hunter S. Thompson.

I am about to chew my nails off knowing that other people are reading what I wrote, even though other people have been reading things I’ve written for most of my life.

Writers are very needy.  The ones of us who aren’t self-important assholes are actually quite insecure.  We don’t consider ourselves great thinkers, or literary geniuses.  We just tell stories.  Some do it better than others.

The story that I’ve given my editor is a very personal non-fiction story.  I never wanted to write it to begin with, but I had to write it.  I’ve learned that I can’t run away from writing, no matter how hard I try.  It’s what I do.  And it’s who I am.  I may fail at it, or I may succeed, but I can never quit.  Nothing else will do.

So, that’s my story.

I will do my best to remember what Jack Smith told me almost 20 years ago, “Tell the story, and you’ll be just fine.”

Well, Mr. Smith…..I’m telling it.

And Mr. Ed….I have the coin.  It never leaves my pocket.

Thank you to everyone who has believed in me, when I couldn’t believe in myself.

I hope the book is a success, but even if it isn’t….I’ll still keep writing. Like they tell the marathon runners, it isn’t about finishing first….it’s just about finishing the race.

Tell the story, and you’ll be just fine.  I have to remember those words, while ignoring the self-doubt and keep going.

Just keep writing.

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

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Some days, I’m just a shell of a person.  I walk around the house like a robot, doing those things all stay-at-home moms do, as if I were on autopilot.  In the middle of my daily chores, I do stop what I’m doing and watch my children. I take snapshots of them in my mind, like one of those old Polaroid cameras.

A touch….a smile….a memory.

One day, my five-year old won’t be running around the house with her fairy wings and ruby slippers, slaying dragons and wiping her nose with her sleeve (like I’ve told her not to do).

One day, my three-year old won’t be climbing on chairs to reach the things I’ve put up high, to keep him from getting to them (what’s the definition of insanity again?).  He won’t have those cute little blonde curls, or those little chocolate smeared hands, and he won’t reach those chubby little arms up, smile at me and say “mommy.”

One day, my 12-year-old won’t be staying on the computer all day playing Minecraft, always getting annoyed by his younger brother and sister, and asking me to “close the stinkin’ door!”

One day, my 12 year-old stepdaughter won’t be asleep on the couch.  How in the world can she sleep through all this noise?

One day, they will be all grown up.  There won’t be messes to clean, huge piles of dishes to wash, or laundry piles the size of Mt. Everest.  There won’t be marker stains and tiny handprints on the walls, or toys lying around.  There won’t be “blankies” or “teddies” or “night-night times” – and there won’t be noise.

One day, it will be quiet.

One day, writing will be all I have to keep me occupied.

I am trying so hard to remember this on a day like today, when they are all fussy and whiny because they all stayed up too late last night, and ate too much candy.  I am trying to keep myself from losing my temper because my house is a wreck, the kids are loud and we are out of every single snack they have asked for, for the last eight hours.  I don’t have the energy, or the money to take ALL the kids to the grocery store….the DAY before Memorial Day, when everyone in town is grocery shopping for their pool parties and barbecues.

So, I have declared “quiet time” – and I’m sitting here at my computer, enjoying a quiet moment….a calm before the afternoon storm, and I am reflecting on some things.

Who am I?

I am Mom.

I will always be Mom.

I am a writer.

I will always be a writer.

What do I want?

I want quiet.  And yet, I don’t want quiet.

Quiet means:  No noses to wipe, messes to clean, children to cuddle, toys to pick up.

Quiet also means: Writing time, tea time, coffee time, nap time, reading time, reflection time.

I want to write.

I am writing.  I write whenever I get a spare minute, which usually means I stay up too late, and get up too early.  I live in a perpetual cycle of sleep deprivation.  But there is always coffee.

So, essentially, I am what I want to be and I have what I want.  There may be days where I think  I know who I am, or what I want…but all I need to do is look around me:  As long as there are messes to clean, dirty dishes, piles of laundry and legos to step on, and things to write about,  I have a purpose.

I need to write that down again….

I have a purpose.

I know other stay-at-home moms feel the same way I do….they get bogged down with the stress, the mess, the same thing day after day, over and over….and they forget who they are and forget what they want.

Look around.

Take a mental Polaroid picture.

See the little toddler boy, sitting on the floor laughing with his hand in the peanut butter jar….

Don’t see the mess you’ll have to clean, see the little boy.  Remember how little he is right now.  In five years, in ten years, in twenty years….he won’t be the same….but you will remember the picture you took in your brain, that mental Polaroid picture….of him as a toddler, laughing with his hand in the peanut butter jar.

See the little preschool girl……she’s five years old, and she still thinks the moon is made out of cheese.  She thinks the tooth fairy leaves glitter, and that Santa Claus will bring her a real Giraffe and an in-ground swimming pool.  See the way her curly hair falls down across her face, and how she uses her chubby hand to swipe it back.  In five years, in ten years, in twenty years…..she won’t be the same….but you will remember the picture you took in your brain, that mental Polaroid picture….of her as a five-year old preschooler, standing in her daddy’s giant shoes, wearing her purple fairy wings, and singing a song she made up in her head.

I have to remember these things in my moments of “I can’t take it anymore” stress.

I have to walk around, ignoring the mess, ignoring the noise and take pictures with my mind.  I have to do my best to remember to treasure the moments that will be gone in the morning.  I have to stop wishing they would just “get a little older” so I won’t have to clean so much, or listen to the noise, or get up every five minutes to make a peanut butter sandwich or chicken nuggets.

I need to remember to be present.  I am here.  This is now.  This is me.

I am Mom.

I will always be Mom.

I always want to be Mom.

I am also a writer….

And so I write about being a Mom, so that I can remember who I am, and what I want….and so that I can write about who they are right now.  One day, they will read this and know that Mom was always watching.  She watched them grow and enjoyed it EVERY step of the way. She remembered to stop worrying about cleaning up the house, and she took mental Polaroids and wrote about how wonderful they were, and how special they are to her.

One day, I will read this with tears in my eyes, and I hope that they will be tears of joy, and not tears of regret.

I have to go now…..I have Polaroids to take, chicken nuggets to make, and I need some cuddles and kisses.

Writing can wait.

 

 

 

 

All in a Day’s Work

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I sometimes dream about what a “real” writer’s life might look like:

He wakes up refreshed and energized after a restful sleep, yawns and stretches with a gleeful smile. What a beautiful day to write! he thinks to himself.  A small cartoonish butterfly somehow manages to flutter through the open window and lands on the Perfect Writer’s finger.  He smiles as he examines the small creature. “You shall be in my next novel.” he says to the butterfly.  The butterfly flutters away, while the Perfect Writer dons his favorite robe and slippers, and glides to the kitchen to grab his morning cup of joe. The birds are busily chirping outside, and the first streams of morning sunlight trickle through the windows of his perfect little writing cottage.    Perfect Writer sits down at his expensive mahogany desk, and begins typing away at his 37th novel with just as much gusto as he did with his first novel. He pauses, cocks his head to one side and thinks of the next line, and smiles at his wit and genius, laughs a little to himself and continues typing away at the next flow of thoughts that come easily as they spew out of his genius mind and out of his genius fingers.

This is not my life.

I am a “real” writer.   I’m not successful by the world’s standards, of course…I don’t have 37 novels in print, nor do I make very much money, if any,  from the prose that I do manage to eek out of my stressed-out, non-genius brain. I don’t have an expensive mahogany desk, I hate mornings, and if I physically saw cartoon butterflies, I’d probably make a doctor’s appointment….STAT.

Here’s how this writer’s life looks:

I wake up in the morning groggy and miserable.  I hate mornings.  If I could sleep until noon, or later, I would.  My sweet husband makes me a cup of coffee, places it on my bedside table and backs away slowly….as if he were making an offering to an angry pagan god.   I mumble a not-so-coherent “thank you” – which translates to “Mgghryuh” in true English.  I lie in bed for another moment, wondering why the bed is so much more comfortable in the morning, than it is during the night when I’m tossing and turning.

With one eye barely open, I reach over and try to reach the handle of my coffee cup.  I end up punching the cup and it blasts against the wall, along with all of the steaming contents that are required in order for my brain to properly function.

“Shit.” I mumble. It’s my first recognizable word of the day.

 

I sit up in bed, grab my robe and use it as a towel to mop up as much of the coffee as I can. I stumble into the kitchen to make myself another cup, and I am greeted by three children who are so incredibly happy that I am awake, they cannot contain themselves.

“Mom! you’re awake! I need water!” the oldest says.

“Mommy, he hit me! I think he needs a spanking.” the middle child says, pointing at the youngest.

“Mommeee. Eee Aaaye  Ask!!!  Eee Aaaye Ask!!”

The youngest is only three, and is trying to tell me he wants to watch “P.J. Masks” – a cartoon found on the Disney Jr. Channel.

Without a word, my husband gives me a quick kiss on the forehead, and slips out the door, to the safety of his work van.  He gets to go to work, I get to stay home with the children.

I am still not able to speak in a clear form of language at this point, so I hold up one finger (No, not that one…geez…..these are the precious fruits of my womb.) I hold up my “wait a minute” finger, and they take the hint and scatter.  I make a fresh cup of coffee and sit down at the dining room table for about 30 seconds.  I do not get to enjoy my coffee.  First, I must make sure all of the little ones have everything they need.  When I finish doing that, my coffee is lukewarm.  I guzzle it, and make another.

I attempt to make my way to the computer at least once or twice, but my oldest son has commandeered it so he can play Minecraft.  It is the only working computer in the house. My laptop died a few weeks ago, and I am still waiting on a replacement.  So, I grab my Kindle Fire and jot down a few notes here and there during the day.

I do dishes, clean floors, kiss boo-boos, read stories, sort laundry and when my husband gets home, we take turns cooking dinner.

At 5:30, it is usually bathtime for the two littles and the oldest boy finally gives up the computer and plays on another electronic device.  We eat dinner together, and at 6:30 the two little ones get in bed.  We are very strict with the early bedtime thing.  It keeps us sane, and gives me time to write so that I’m not up all night writing, when I am dog-tired from tending to little ones all day.

After everyone is bathed, fed and tucked away, I make myself another cup of coffee and sit down to write.  It goes like this:

I open up a Word document and type, “The….”

I sit and wait for inspiration.

I take a sip of coffee.

Nothing.

I take another sip of coffee.

Nothing.

I get on Facebook.

Eventually, I will think of something to write and I get started.  Sometimes, it takes a while and sometimes nothing happens at all.  Where are one of those damned cartoon butterflies? I wonder.

If I can’t think of anything to write, I usually dig out an old manuscript and edit.  Or write a blog post.  If absolutely NO inspiration comes, I will either get back online and read, or I will climb in bed and watch something completely worthless on my Roku.  Sometimes, I’ll grab a book from the bookshelf and read….either a Jane Austen fan fiction novel, or something by Stephen King.  There is usually no in-between.  Unless I’m in a “Southern Writers only” mood….and I’ll grab something by Zelda Fitzgerald, Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell.  It’s a crapshoot.

So, you see, the writer’s life is not that interesting.  We are writers.  We write about interesting things that other people do.  We are not all alcoholics or ex-pats like Hemingway, or F. Scott Fitzgerald.  We are actually quite boring. At least, I am.  But I’m not exactly in the same category as those mentioned above.  I’m a struggling writer.  I’m a newbie.  I’m just a wife, mom and southern writer with the intense, burning need to sit at a computer and type everything that flutters through my brain….  IF something flutters around in there at all.

Maybe that’s where that cartoon butterfly lives.  Maybe we all have our own cartoon butterflies.  Mine just happens to be stuck in a mommy brain full of caffeine, sleep deprivation, and Yo Gabba Gabba songs. He’s probably in there sitting in a tiny recliner, gorging himself on chocolates and reality tv shows…. waiting for the moment when I decide to let him out.

Or it could just be writer’s block.

Whatever.

I’ll let you guys know if he ever comes out.

That is my exciting writer’s life.

If you are a writer, I hope your own cartoon butterfly comes your way soon.

I am patiently waiting for mine.

 

 

 

 

 

Labor of Love

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A labor of love.

I guess that’s what writing is for me.  It’s also my favorite form of self-expression, and a way to de-stress after a long day of cleaning, doing laundry and raising my little ones.

I have never written a book before.  Well, I have…but I’ve never actually published one.  My writing and publishing experience has mostly consisted of magazine feature stories, newspaper articles, columns and the occasional blog post.  So, in my experience, writing has been easy.  And writing IS easy, once you sit down and force yourself to do it.  I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, and the worst part of writing for me is that period where I have to make myself actually sit down and do it!

Since I’m such a newbie in publishing, I have broken a Cardinal Rule in book writing – I didn’t allow enough time between the actual writing-of-the-book part, and the part where I do my editing and polishing.  I have been editing and polishing constantly for two months.  I’m starting to think the book has completely changed since I first sat down to write the darned thing.

Anyway, I have printed my FINAL version of my half of the book (my co-author is working on her half right now as well) and I have put it away in a drawer.  I refuse to even open the drawer until I have to put it in a package to send to our editor.

I also have two weeks to get myself emotionally ready to “say goodbye” to my manuscript, and open that locked door, so I can send it out into the world.

It’s a little bit like having a baby, in my opinion.  You grow your little manuscript, and little pieces of you are contained within….it’s YOUR story.  You take care of it, and watch it grow stronger by the day, the week and the month….and then, it’s time to let it out into the world so that others can READ it.  I mean, that’s what books are for, right? For reading…for sharing ideas and stories with others?  But the world is a mean place.   What if people hate your book?  What if people say mean things about it – this little piece of you that you have created?  It’s a chance you have to take.  It’s a chance I have to take.

I have two weeks before I have to let my manuscript go to the editor.  After the final changes are made, it will go to print….and the whole world will be able to peer into my soul. They will either love my book or they will hate it.  They will ask questions.

There will be book promotions we have to do, conferences to attend, interviews to do, book signings and public events…..the list goes on.

Am I ready for all that?  Not yet.

Kim and I have done one interview, and we are scheduled to do another one this week, so I’m getting a little more used to talking about the book, even though it isn’t “out there” just yet.

If all goes well with editing, and we can get everything just the way it needs to be, then we are looking at an August or September publish date.  I am excited and nervous.  I can’t wait to see the published book with my own name on it for the very first time…..to hold it in my hands and smell the pages.  I can’t wait to see it (hopefully) on the shelves of the local bookstores, and see it online at Amazon….there will also be a Kindle version as well.

Until then, I wait.  I am trying to find SOMETHING to do to keep myself occupied, so I don’t open the drawer and look at the manuscript.

Knitting? Laundry? Underwater basket weaving? Or start working on a new book?

The possibilities are endless!

But, I must…not…open…that…drawer….

 

 

Write What You Know

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Everyone has a story to tell.  I’m usually an open book type of person, but my particular story has been something I’ve held back, mostly because it was such an emotional experience, and also because it’s…well… strange.

Growing up, I always enjoyed a good ghost story.  My dad was a master storyteller, and he delighted in scaring me with stories about John Dawson (the local boogeyman) and how his spirit would roam around a certain spooky area of town in search of his next victim.  I was also a Girl Scout, and there was nothing better than sitting around a campfire with my troop, swapping stories about sasquatch, children lost in the woods, and ghostly visions of hitchhikers thumbing for one last ride.

What I never expected, is that I would later become a character in my own ghost story.
I believed in ghosts, but on a superficial level.  Ghosts belonged in books and campfire tales and they were good for scaring the crap out of your friends at sleepovers. Purely entertainment.  They aren’t supposed to jump out of the pages of the book and materialize in your own home.  That’s what I thought, anyway….until I experienced the paranormal for myself.

I guess it’s the same for everyone…. you don’t really believe something can happen to you, until it DOES happen to you.  When it does happen to you, the first thing you think is “I’m going crazy. There’s no way that just happened.  It isn’t physically possible.” – But it DID just happen, and there is usually no logical explanation. When you experience a REAL haunting, your brain can’t accept what your eyes are seeing, or what your ears are hearing. Why is that door opening by itself? It must be the wind…but there is no wind.  Why is there a figure in the upstairs window staring down at me….when no one is in the house? It has to be a reflection….but you blink, and the figure disappears. Why do I hear noises upstairs, when no one’s up there?  Must be the dog.  But you don’t have a dog. Is it the house settling? Maybe.  You are always, always trying to justify to yourself what’s going on.  In a real haunting, there’s a sense of being watched. There are things that appear to move on their own. There are noises, but no real sense of where they are coming from or who (or what) could be making them.  There is a sense of unease…of not knowing what strange thing will happen next.  Weeks will go by and everything will be normal, and then, when you least expect it, something unexplained will happen.

It isn’t scary, though. Not really. Nerve-wracking, yes…but not scary.  There aren’t bloody figures or decayed corpses jumping out at you from closets or under beds. There aren’t bleeding walls and creepy girl-demons crawling out of the TV.  No, a true haunting isn’t scary….not until it’s over, and you look back only to realize you weren’t alone in your own home. Objects really did move by themselves. There really were things standing right behind you when you thought you were alone. There really was something whispering unintelligible things in your ear.  Was it a nightmare, or was that dark thing really in your room last night?

Sometimes, when you are experiencing a haunting….you think you’re going insane….hearing voices, seeing things…these are all symptoms of a severe mental illness. But, can a whole family have a brief mental illness….at the same time? Not likely.

So, after months of indecision, I decided to come out with my story – our story. My friend, Kim Johnston, and I are writing a book about the experience.  Kim is a paranormal investigator, and she and her team did an investigation of our home….once our family had moved out, of course. And what they found was far beyond what any of us anticipated. I wanted to tell the FULL story….not only because it’s a great story, but because I want to help other people who may have experienced the same kind of thing.  Here in the South, we have our ghost stories….but when the story becomes too personal, we usually file it away in the “don’t tell anyone” file and forget about it.  I’d thought about doing that, but I’ve decided to open up about it instead.  I know there are other people out there who have gone through a very emotional, very personal experience with the paranormal….and I want to encourage them to come out with their stories. It’s a bit like therapy: If you can’t talk about it, you will never be able to heal.

So…Kim and I are working on the book – Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting.  We hope to have it published sometime this fall, if everything goes right.  The website for the book is http://www.haintbluehaunting.com – and we have launched a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/haintbluehaunting AND a Twitter page @HaintHaunting.

It takes a lot of gumption to come out with a story like this, and we can use all the support we can get!

I also need to give a big shout out to Mr. Edwin F. Becker.  After a wonderful conversation with him, I was convinced that I didn’t need to be afraid to come out with my own story.  He has a book of his own, and you all need to check it out.  It’s called True Haunting.  What he and his wife experienced was very similar to our own experience, and I am indebted to him for giving me the strength to realize that I am not alone.  These things DO happen to people!

So, the next time you THINK you are being watched…..or you hear whispering….or you see things dart around in the corner of your eye…..you probably aren’t crazy.

Hauntings are real. There are things that can’t be explained.

Don’t be afraid.