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Special extended TWL episode: Howe was the book signing?


I had a blast last week up at Howe Caverns for a signing of my new collection, The Shadows Behind. Rather than put up a bunch of pictures, I decided to do a special extended episode of my This Writing Life series. Enjoy!


Hoping for a Ghost Story: One Night in an Empty Motel

Sometimes inspiration for a story is thrust upon me, but sometimes I have to do the work myself.

Nathan and I are getting married at Howe Caverns in Howes Cave, New York, this coming September. The attraction is a much-beloved place from my childhood, and the reason we chose Howe was because I’d taken him there for the first time a couple of summers ago and it was pure magic: any visit to scenic Howe Caverns is a departure from the real world, important for us since we’re always connected and always working or busy. A whole weekend with nothing to connect with except each other is a rarity to cherish.

What makes Howe so special is its dedicated, friendly staff, its uniqueness, its sense of adventure—and its charm.

But what also makes it special is its isolation.

We’d planned a three-day trip for mid-March to finalize wedding plans with Howe, cake-taste, meet our pastor, and check out some of what the area has to offer. The Howe Caverns Motel, a 21-room one-story garden-style building (which our entire wedding party has reserved for that weekend…wow, I can only imagine…) with incredible views and rooms that feel cleaner than the ones in Walt Disney World (I am not kidding), is open during the off-season, but we knew it was going to be practically deserted during our stay.

Which thrilled me to no end.

Since I’m writing an original ghost story set at Howe Caverns as part of the wedding favor, I was looking forward to some glorious isolation: especially in the middle of winter, when everything is gray and there are few, if any, tourists. I went there hoping for inspiration, and imagine my thrill when we checked in and it felt like there wasn’t a soul around for at least a mile (we know there’s a groundskeeper somewhere on the property who’s always on duty and can be reached by an emergency phone hanging outside the lobby). There were no other guests. Ours was the only car in the lot.

We joked around about being in an abandoned building. Then we joked around about moving shadows outside our window. Then we joked around about the ghost of an ax-murderer or child who’d died from falling down a hole wandering the grounds at night All invented by us, of course. But we managed to spook ourselves, which was exactly what we wanted to do.

Below, a slideshow of our first night, and a video—join us as we wend our way up the pitch-black driveway to the empty Howe Caverns Motel, our imaginations running wild with darkly romantic fantasies.

And remember that if you’re a writer, sometimes you’ve got to kick things a bit of a kick-start.

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