A New York City Ghost Story!

cropped-new-logo-no-wordsMany thanks to the guest judges of The Ginger Collect for naming my short story, “Saturday Night at the Swannanoa,” a Runner-Up in their first-ever Halloween contest. These kind folks also published it online in the just-released Halloween 2018 Mini-Magazine!

If you like eclectic and imaginative stories, I hope you check out this issue for yourself.

This story wouldn’t have been possible without generous input from my son Dashiel, another talented writer, who also happens to be my favorite New Yorker!

Yes, it’s Halloween, but it’s never too early to start on your own spooky stories for next year. Draw some inspiration from the other stories in The Ginger Collect or from your own favorite writers.


Stuck in a rut? Try something new!

buster1.jpgFor Halloween, Buster, our little corgi-mix, decided to try a new look. Born with a hastily-tied white “Ascot” around his neck, he decided to switch things up this year. So he’s preening around in a hot dog bun. Hold the onions, please.

Buster’s transformation got me thinking about the myriad possibilities for writers. Are you stuck in a rut? Is your scarf askew? Sometimes, as we enter a new season–especially after a productive summer of writing–I start getting a little antsy. What’s next?

Like Chekhov, who loved wandering the cherry orchard, it helped me to go outside. On Whale Tail Road, we’re continuing to clean up brush and debris from two hurricanes. And Nature, as always, helped push me out of the rut. And it might help you too!

peppersOur jalapeno peppers truly hit their stride this fall, blessing us with a bountiful crop, even in October. So why not put a little kick in your own writing? When I think of the unexpected, Shirley Jackson always comes to mind. In her short story, The Daemon Lover, the protagonist takes the reader through a labyrinth of suspense. Does her mysterious fiancé exist at all? Can you take your reader on a similar journey? No need to veer into a thriller or horror (unless you want to!), you can actually do a lot by putting the familiar into a new context. Does the trip home, a short walk she has always taken, look a different to your protagonist today? Humm….

loofahGardening constantly surprises–with “volunteer” crops springing up in the most unexpected places. And this year, we had a volunteer loofah plant! When the seeds of last year’s crop fell through the deck, a new vine entwined its way up the retaining wall.

We’ve always loved loofah for its exfoliating qualities, so this, too, sent me on a detour. Like the loofah, all writers should feel free to “scrub off” the dead skin and start anew.

Can you give new life to a dead short story by turning it into a poem? And if that doesn’t work out, consider taking it back to a flash story, a shorter version of what you started with. I’ve had a lot of fun recently working on a short story of mine, “Lost and Found of the Dead,” which has turned into a poem, and then back into a story again.

Writing is the ultimate metamorphosis, when you think about it. What other profession allows you to “slip” into a costume and enter the mindset of someone else? No strings, no responsibilities, and it doesn’t cost a penny. So try something new this season and finish your 2018 writing year strong!

So from Buster and all of us at Whale Tail Road, Happy Halloween, er, make that Happy Transformation!





Naked and Hungry Goes to Kernersville!

Although I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life, until yesterday I never had the pleasure of going to the charming town of Kernersville. Located in Forsyth County, the town is aptly described as the “heart” of the Piedmont Triad.

Along with about fifteen other authors, including my talented editor and friend, Judith Geary, the acclaimed author of the Getorix book series,  I had the pleasure of attending the Fall Book Fest hosted by Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore.

I met many new faces, but one of the highlights was re-connecting with dear friend, Anna Sandelli (pictured on the far left), who now lives close by. I had the pleasure of working with the UNC journalism major for two years at Chapel Hill and I’ve enjoyed watching her star rise.

This experience was just another reason I hope to return to Kernersville in the future. History abounds in this small town, from the founding in 1756 by an Irishman to a visit by George Washington in 1791. The town is named for Jule Korner, a German immigrant who left his mark in the form of a mysterious Victorian mansion known as “Korner’s Folly.” WIth 22 rooms spread over 7 levels, don’t you bet this place could inspire a novel (or two)?  I can just picture H.T. making a visit, getting lost and locked inside.

We’ll have plenty of creepy adventures ahead in my follow-up novel, Born Again, Dead Again. Here H.T. attends a Halloween gathering populated by “prombies” (zombies frozen in their high school prom attire) and a mysterious Celtic-themed dancer named Boudicca who guards the secrets of a growing list of dead men. Stay tuned for a preview just in time for Halloween!