Monthly Archives: August 2010

WHY GHOST STORIES GRAB US—AND MORE—ON C.L. ROSS’ BLOG

Passionate about the paranormal? You can read about Ross Castle’s recent encounters, reality TV’s pitfalls, ghost stories’ grip and investigation’s how-to all in one place thanks to C.L. Ross, author of forthcoming paranormal thrillers The Llewelyn Legacy. She featured the paranormal on her blog for the month of August (and Nathan and I got to contribute)! You can click on each person’s name and it’ll take you right to the post. Enjoy!


Mick Doyle

This Lead Investigator for Ireland’s East Coast Paranormal Investigations got more than he bargained for while assisting the Killarney Paranormal Society at the 14th-Century Ross Castle. Here, he finally releases the details of his terrifying experiences. Exclusive.

Nathan Schoonover

Co-host of The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Show and A&E’s Extreme Paranormal shares how paranormal reality TV works—and why, when investigating, it’s imperative to think originally and go deeper.

Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Writer of award-winning ghost stories discusses why they’re still one of the most popular forms of entertainment, and why spooky story collections—fiction or non—always fly off the shelves.

Melissa Martin Ellis

The author of The Everything Ghost Hunting Book gives an overview on the state of the paranormal investigative scene—and why she wrote the volume that’s been consistently in Amazon’s top ten sellers in the subject.

Ruth Deery

This lead investigator for the Killarney Paranormal Society in the South of Ireland reports on her favorite investigation so far–and shows that shaking up your routine just might be a good thing.

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AN INSIDE LOOK AT AN NMWC WORKSHOP

Me, on a workshop break (or, “A Happy Girl in Ptown”)

Many writers I know have asked me about the Norman Mailer Writers Colony workshop experience. I had planned, on some point, at posting specifics about the workshop I attended this summer—Fiction: The Protagonists with Marita Golden—but fellow writer and workshop attendee Len Joy beat me to it, and has done a fantastic job! If you want detailed insight on what it’s really like to attend a Colony workshop, you can read Len’s blog—and see some great photos—here.

Fiction: The Protagonists workshop attendees. Back row, left to right: John DeSimone, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Doug Dechow, Adrienne Wartts, Len Joy. Front row, left to right: Heidi Diehl, Marita Golden (Instructor), LuLu Johnson, and Anne Lopatto.

I’d encourage any writer to apply for these fabulous week-long workshops; they’re offered all summer long in a range of disciplines and are taught by some of the most accomplished writers working today. Attendees are chosen on merit and the application period usually opens sometime in January.

And I won’t forget to mention that you meet some pretty neat kindred souls. Not everyone in my group has a blog or website, but here are the ones that do if you’re interested in “meeting” them:

Douglas R. Dechow http://www.douglasdechow.com/

Lofty Ambitions: Douglas R. Dechow’s Blog

http://loftyambitions.wordpress.com

Marita Golden http://www.maritagolden.com/

Do Not Go Gentle: Leonard Joy’s Blog http://lenjoy.blogspot.com

To see a schedule of this year’s workshops so you can get an idea of what’s offered, visit http://www.nmwcolony.org/workshops/workshop/2/31/2010. To bookmark the site and check back frequently for 2011’s offerings and open application period, it’s http://www.nmwcolony.org/ and select the Fellowships/Workshops/Programs tab.

And, of course, although you’re working—we had class every day and yes, there was homework—there’s still time to enjoy what Ptown has to offer. In my opinion, a little daily recreation—especially experiencing new things—is always what makes these workshops so rich. Here are a few pix from my great week. Links from the places I visited (those places that have websites) follow the photos. Enjoy!

Charles, who visited for a couple of days, managed to get this much better shot of my attic writing quarters. I was usually up very early every morning doing work before class met at 9:30. The light is different out there—it gets lighter earlier and darker earlier, so it does tend to mess with my normal sleeping patterns.

We had rain once the whole week, and I enjoyed it on the skylights in my writing room.

I spent time on the beach reading at least one hour a day.

Monday night all nine of us went to Fanizzi’s for dinner.

On Tuesday, John makes a California salad for lunch after class. He and Len had a nice place from which they could see the bay.

The dunes were popular with Lulu and Heidi, who took their bikes everywhere and spent a lot of time out in nature. I think they were out there pretty much every day, and I heard they did get a chance to see the Dune Shacks, at least from a distance.

I took Charles out to see the dunes, which I’d visited in winter. We ran into some visitors who were hoping the beach was nearby. I told them it was a long—very long—trek. In winter it hadn’t been that bad, but in summer in that heat, I wasn’t about to do it again.

We gathered for a cocktail hour on Tuesday night. Len was there early to set up.

Charles and I had been talking about visiting the Wellfleet Drive-In ever since I’d driven past it back in January. On Tuesday night, we got our chance to go. What a great place! More on this in a future blog entry.

…and even though the drive-in had the audio through a radio frequency, as they all do nowadays, some of the 1950s speakers still worked—and, in fact, the car next to us used that instead of the radio. Here, Charles messes around with putting it on the car window. The one we had happened to work, so it was a real kick.

The speakers work!

Wednesday was really hot, so I spent some time in the water off Norman’s back porch. I’d also wanted to shoot a photo to accompany a blog entry about my short story “Jingle Shells.” I’d brought my tacky Christmas earrings and pins with me, and went to Marine Specialties where I bought a bag of shells I really didn’t need for a dollar. Fortunately, there was a little girl visiting the house that day. She was more than happy to watch me shoot these stupid pictures and chase the shells if the tip of a wave started to sweep them away—and more than happy to take the whole bag of them off my hands when I was done!

Marita, Heidi, Len, John, and I went to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum - PAAM - on Wednesday night to see Jazz with Dick Miller and Friends. Pictured are, left to right, Donna Byrne (vocals), John Bucher (trumpet) and Marshall Wood (bass), who, with Dick Miller (piano) performed some wonderful standards that so reminded me of my Julie London CDs. They even did one of my favorites—“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”

Thursday, Anne, John, and Len came over to my place for dinner.

I made steak—but we didn’t have a grill, so I had to call Nathan for a crash course in effective broiling. The three of them seemed okay in class the next day, so I suppose I didn’t kill them. The salads came from East End Market and Stop & Shop, so I knew we were okay on those!

Anne and John in my living room, where I served appetizers.

On Friday, Adrienne and I decided to strike out for Truro Vineyards for a tour. More on this whole thing in a later blog entry…but isn’t this beautiful?

Adrienne and I each bought one of these lighthouse-shaped bottles of wine. The bottles are imported from Italy and they need to be hand-labeled, because the labeling machines cannot handle them. I shared mine with Charles when I got home—but Adrienne made a mistake and put hers in her carry-on, so it was…confiscated. Fortunately, the wine can be ordered online!

I had driven by this kitschy place in the winter, when it’s closed. Adrienne and I went here for lunch after the vineyards. Good stuff—Moby Dick’s menu features just about every kind of fun seafood thing you can imagine, including Wellfleet Oysters and Grilled Crab Cakes. I ordered the lobster roll, forgetting that down here in Connecticut—at least at the Black Duck in Westport—the lobster roll is hot meat in a toasted roll. This was cold lobster salad. I ate it anyway, but wasn’t that happy with it. My bad.

I love displays like this! In Moby Dick’s, they are everywhere. We didn’t have time to hit the gift shop. I’ll definitely be doing that next time I’m there during the summer.

Friday night we decided we’d all go out to dinner again, so we gathered at Lulu’s place. Left to right, Heidi and Adrienne at Lulu’s table.

Pepe’s is on Commercial Street, at the end of an alley and right on the water. Just to the right of this sign is Bowerstock Gallery. Later on that night, LuLu and I stopped in there—and I saw some art I really wish I could afford!

Heidi and I. We ordered the Fish and Chips and Adrienne followed suit.

Fish and Chips!!

Doug gets ready to dig into his fried scallops. Hey, you’re in Ptown. Fried fish, as Heidi pointed out, is a MUST!

Well, except for Len, whom John dubbed jokingly as ‘the last serious man on earth’ when he announced he was sticking to his Friday night tradition: pizza!

LuLu, Marita, and John.

LuLu and I weren’t ready to head back after dinner, so we headed out to cruise Commercial Street. I love stuff like this. In Ptown, it’s everywhere. I could take 200 pictures of interesting signs.

LuLu and I get a picture of ourselves down at the pier. We had just been to Marine Specialties and bought funky earrings we didn’t need. She’s wearing hers—aren’t those starfish cool?

Saturday morning before class I finally took some time to walk out on the beach while the tide was out.

When the tide is out, many animals get left behind in small pools. Here is a baby spider crab. This was a little female.

After class and a catered lunch from Farland, Marita, Adrienne and I went to tour the Pilgrim Monument, which on August 5th had just marked its 100th Anniversary with a parade and fireworks.

Adrienne working her way up the inside of the monument.

The view from the top of the monument. This is looking out over the bay—I think toward the South, but don’t quote me on that.

The museum, which is included in the admission price, features exhibits on the history of Provincetown, including a display on the signing of the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor on November 11, 1620.

On Saturday we all met for wine and cheese at LuLu’s apartment on Commercial Street. Here she is on her front porch.

LuLu and Doug chat it up.

Marita, Anne, Adrienne and I scored tickets for the last night of the Provincetown Jazz Festival, which was being held at Provincetown High School. The evening was a tribute to New Orleans, and a portion of the proceeds benefitted the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. What a way to finish out the week! Paul Sanchez played for us, and got the crowd going with some of the most rousing music I’ve ever heard. Seriously, people were leaping out of their chairs. It was worth the money.

I took Doug and Marita to the airport on Sunday before checking out. The airport is tiny and so are the planes. Cape Air—which Doug affectionately dubbed “Scare Air”—flies out of here.

Links

Norman Mailer Writers Colony

http://www.nmwcolony.org/

Fanizzi’s

http://www.fanizzisrestaurant.com/

The dunes (information only)

http://gonewengland.about.com/library/bldunetour4.htm

Wellfleet Drive-In

http://www.wellfleetcinemas.com/drive-in-theatre

Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM)

http://www.paam.org/

Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod

http://trurovineyardsofcapecod.com/index.php

Moby Dick’s

http://www.mobydicksrestaurant.com/home.html

Pepe’s Wharf Waterfront Restaurant

http://www.pepeswharf.com/

Bowersock Gallery

http://bowersockgallery.com/

Marine Specialties

http://www.ptownarmynavy.com/

Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum

http://www.pilgrim-monument.org/

Provincetown Jazz Festival

http://www.provincetownjazzfestival.org/

Provincetown Municipal Airport

http://www.provincetown-ma.gov/index.aspx?NID=170

BACK TO SCHOOL BLUES?

…then Andy Bailey’s “Strike” at Read Short Fiction might be just what you’re looking for! It’s just been posted here. Enjoy!

“JINGLE SHELLS” TO JANGLE FULL OF CROW’S OCTOBER ISSUE

I’m pleased to announce that Full of Crow’s  editor Paul Corman-Roberts noted that “Jingle Shells” was “the perfect ghost story for us to run for Full of Crow Fiction’s October Issue!”

The story centers on a washed-up Adirondack amusement park Santa who’s out of a job. So put a little creep in your impending Christmas…check out “Jingle Shells” in Full of Crow Fiction Quarterly in October.

LOST AND FOUND

My beloved brown hat.

I’ve lost lots of things over the years, but there are three items in particular which really bother me: a set of thumb-sized dolls with bright blue and pink accessories I had when I was around three, a scrapbook of The ClioPlayers, a small theatre troupe I ran at URI in the early 1990s, and most recently, a rare Christmas ornament—Bernard from Disney’s The Rescuers. Every once in awhile, I think, one of these things’ll just show up in the most unexpected place—like a set of keys, an earring’s mate, or a favorite pen often does.

But that never happens. They’ve just vanished, as though they’ve blinked out of existence.

When I went to the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony in Provincetown in January for a month, I’d brought a knit winter hat with me. I hadn’t owned it long and it wasn’t expensive—I’d bought it in late 2007 at Old Navy for $1.99—but it had become my favorite: since it was brown, it went with over half my wardrobe and both my winter coats, and in my opinion, it was stylish. It was also very warm.

I wore it pretty much everywhere the whole time I was up there, but I didn’t need it the last week—the temperatures has risen to the high forties and even the low fifties, so it wasn’t necessary. When it came time for me to leave Ptown, I was packing my things and noticed it was missing.

I looked everywhere. It wasn’t at Mailer’s house, nor was it at any of the bars, restaurants, galleries, or shops I’d been to. It wasn’t at any of my daily haunts, and it also wasn’t at any of the apartments I’d visited. I was able to figure out the last time I’d worn it was when I’d been crawling through a foundation on Commercial Street the day before my birthday, but I had a picture of me later that night with it on, so I knew I hadn’t left it in somebody’s sub-basement. It had simply disappeared.

February 4, 2010: The last time I remember wearing my beloved brown hat; I was crawling around in house foundations. It was cold down there!

I came back to Connecticut and shrugged it off, reverting to an older hat I didn’t like as much for the remainder of the winter. I had plenty of hats, so it wasn’t like I was going to purchase another one—nothing could replace the special brown one, anyway. The hat, however, hovered in the back of my mind like a love affair gone bad: what happened?

Last week, I was back at the Colony as part of the Norman Mailer Center for a workshop. We met every day around a table in Norman’s living room, and had, as people do, adopted a “seat” for the week. I sat with my back to the sea, facing my new friend and fine writer, LuLu Johnson. She was making a poignant observation about someone’s work, but for some reason my gaze drifted beyond her right shoulder and settled in the corner.

There, perched on a curved umbrella handle, was a brown hat.

My first thought was oh my God is that it? It certainly looked like it—it was that milk chocolate color, it had the small basket weave, it was a little pilled all over and frayed on one edge. That can’t be it, I thought. That has to be someone else’s. But it was August, and who the hell would bring a hat like that to a beach community at the height of a record-hot summer? I blinked. It was still there. I studied it some more.

It was my hat.

August 12, 2010: This was pretty much the view over LuLu's shoulder.

I was overwhelmed with the urge to leap out of my chair screaming, “my hat! I’ve found my hat!”—but I didn’t, knowing that not only would everyone not know what I was talking about, it would disrupt class. When workshop was over, I took a couple of photos and clutched it as I would a lost lover.

It wasn’t until the next day when the group was having dinner at Pepe’s that I related my story.

“Oh, that’s your hat!” LuLu said. “It was in the middle of the floor. I thought that was really strange, because, you know, it’s a winter hat, and I didn’t know whose it was, so I just picked it up and hung it there on the umbrella.”

Marita Golden, our instructor, noted she was convinced objects have a secret inner life—that they need to go away for awhile sometimes, disappear completely, go on their own journeys. That they come back to us when we’re ready.[1]

Later that night, the hat was on my white coffee table. It looked so out of place it was eerie—the ghost of the winter when my own incredible journey had begun.

I’d left Ptown in February in a state of confusion and unrest about my life, what I wanted from it, where I was going. At that time, doors weren’t just closing or opening—they were slamming or blowing off their hinges, and it had been so chaotic and emotional that none of it made any sense.

August was the opposite. In the middle of the week—literally, on Wednesday—everything resolved. I knew where I belonged, what I wanted to do with my life, where I was headed. Doors were barely hishing closed and opening like their hinges had just been oiled, and what I’d been through in the last eight months seemed logical. Everything had come full circle. A journey had been completed. I was going home a settled, happy, optimistic person. In fact, I had so much optimism I could start blowing open doors all on my own.

And the next day, the hat showed up out of nowhere. Weird.

Coincidence? Maybe not. Marita might have been on to something. Do things disappear and materialize again when we’re ready? Is there some alternate dimension they haunt until the timing’s right? This is much like life. We can want things, we can try to force things to come about (or not), but in the end—and I believe it applies no matter what religion or spiritual orientation you are—these things don’t happen until we’re ready. Until the time is right.

So what about my dolls, my scrapbook, my Christmas ornament? Perhaps they’ll still turn up. I could’ve begun a journey at the point where each of those items disappeared, and I’m not done yet.

Now I just have to figure out what happened to my favorite towel, which I remember packing before I left Ptown, but it wasn’t in my suitcase when I got home…


[1] I don’t remember word-for-word what she said, so this is a paraphrase. I just remember being struck by it, and thinking, ‘yes! Yes, yes, yes!’

TIME OUT IN THE TREETOPS

There was always something magical about a treehouse, and I have often wondered what it would be like to stay in one.

The last time I was in Ptown at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, I stayed in a cute little beach-themed apartment, full of light. This time around, I’m in a three-floor two-bedroom condo under the trees—and the room in which I sleep, as well as the spacious attic where I work, seem like they’re tucked up in the boughs. Childhood fantasy number umpteen—someday I’m going to live in a treehouse—complete!

Have I spent much time in it? Not much. For those of you wondering why I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, my days here have been filled with swimming, sitting on the beach or on Norman Mailer’s back porch, doing homework, attending workshop, and spending time with the other attendees, all fine writers. Instructor Marita Golden is amazing; since the workshop is all about protagonists in fiction, I’m finding I’m learning as much about myself and other people as I am about the ones I create on the page. Each of us also gets a private meeting with Marita to discuss our work, and, as a group, we’ve been out to dinner at Fanizzi’s, had a pleasant cocktail hour, and attended a jazz concert at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum [PAAM]. We have plans for the rest of the week to include a visit to the famous Pilgrim Monument and a trip to Truro Winery. Oh, yeah—I’ve also managed to cram in a visit to the Wellfleet Drive-in.

Here’s pix of my palace in the trees, where right now I’m sitting as the ocean breezes pour through the open window and skylights, and where each night, I fall asleep to the sound of rustling leaves and marvel at how, when I was a child, I never thought a dream like this would come true.

You can click on each thumbnail to get an enlarged image. Enjoy!

CARPE ARTICULUM CHOOSES “DOORS” FOR FALL ISSUE

Carpe Articulum Literary Review has chosen “Doors” for its next quarterly issue published this Fall.

Carpe Articulum is translated into several languages—including Russian and Hindi—and features beautiful photography and artwork. Past issues have included interviews with writing and film industry greats, including Jodi Picoult, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Connie May Fowler, Pulitzer Prize Winner David E. Hoffman, Jeff Goldblum, Ray Harryhausen, and Steven Spielberg. “Mater Amabilis,” a story by Harrison Solow—who won the 2008 Pushcart Prize for Literature—took first place in the magazine’s most recent short fiction contest and appeared in the summer issue.

For more information on Carpe Articulum, you can visit its website or its listing at NewPages. To get a glimpse of the magazine’s Spring 2010 issue, click here; to read about Harrison Solow and her experience with Carpe, visit here.

Here’s the cover of their summer issue:

I’m honored and thrilled that “Doors” has found such a prestigious home, and I’ll let you know when the issue is available for purchase. I won’t spoil the story, but if you’d like to know what inspired it, you can visit https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/2010/01/16/the-bone-lady/ .

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