Tag Archive for: writer

A Ghostly Encounter

I am a certified city of Charleston tour guide. Sometimes I give ghost tours. Once one of the tourists told me that what was scary about my ghost stories was that I told them as a matter of fact, not fantasy.


Well, it’s because I’ve had a few ghostly encounters. I thought you might like to read about one of them.


My best friend and I babysat at a house in Pinopolis, SC, where we lived. (Side note: it was a fantastic place to grow up!) We had never been told specifics about the ghost in the house, but I had lived at the house next door for a few years and had heard there was a ghost at this house, as there was one in the house I lived in as well, but that’s another story.

Pinopolis is a peninsula on Lake Moultrie outside of Moncks Corner, SC.


We put the children to bed. We locked the front door with the skeleton key and placed the key on the credenza all the way across from the front door. We checked the side door (near the dining room) and the back door in the kitchen. 

Once we put the children to bed, we did not check on them again as the room on the right at the top of the stairs gave off weird vibes. When I had to walk past it, and you didn’t have a choice as it was on the way to the rest of the upstairs, I would close my eyes and dash across the doorway, whether the door was open or closed, it did not matter.


In the past I had heard someone going up and down the stairs while I bathed the children in the tub between the den and the study. I never saw anyone, even though I would take the kids out of the tub and go investigate. 

A view of Lake Moultrie from a home in Pinopolis.


Anyway, back to that night … We had popcorn and a soft drink, probably Mountain Dew as we were big fans of Mountain Dew. We had just finished watching the Love Boat and Fantasy Island’s starting credits had begun. I was on the couch that was parallel to the wall at the bathroom. My friend was sitting in the lounge chair that was to my left and at an angle facing the television. We were both facing the opening to the hall and the television.


I got that eerie feeling that someone watched me. I glanced up at the door between the hall and the den. A little old lady peered at me around the door frame. Her hair was in a bun. She was short. She had on a dress. Her gnarled, arthritic-looking, fingers were gently placed on the door frame. She stared at me until I broke contact to look at my friend. She was staring at the same spot in the doorway. She practically levitated to the spot next to me on the couch after she said, “did you see that little old lady looking at you?”


We sat with our hands entwined until the parents arrived. They said the front door was wide open and they fussed at us. We asked them if there was a ghost in the house and gave the description. They were in disbelief, not because they didn’t believe us but because they said she never showed herself to anyone but family. (My friend is related to them, but she was staring at me, maybe trying to figure out who I was and why I was there so much?) The parents said it was the man’s relative who had been bedridden in later life and the room at the top of the stairs had been her room.


After that, whenever I babysat for the children I’d talk to the ghost and tell her what I was doing so she’d be aware, and maybe, hopefully, not appear to me again!


Robin Hillyer-Miles lives happily in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband, teenaged son, and three dogs. She’s supposed to be editing her latest novel to be self-published but she has been lazy. This new novel is based in a fictional town called Marion’s Corner, also located in the Lowcountry. It has a witch, many ghosts, and quite a few people of all ages looking for love. She’s published in short-story format and is the president of the Lowcountry Romance Writers of America.

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Today, I Met an Author by Debra H. Goldstein

Today, I Met an Author by Debra H. Goldstein
Today, I met an author. Physically, she was petite, but her words packed a solid punch.  The holiday tale she read me was well crafted – it had a defined beginning, middle, and end and contained two interesting and unexpected twists. The characters were simple, but well drawn and names like Elfy and Santa served to enhance the story.  Even though the author’s spelling and punctuation, especially forgetting to use quotation marks, was distracting, the use of dialogue and narrative was effectively balanced.  Best of all, many of the story’s pages contained cartoon like illustrations that allowed poorer readers to follow the story.  What I read might be called a rough short story, but I expect we’ll be seeing more polished offerings from this author in the future.  After all, she only is a second grader.

I was in her classroom to discuss Chanukah and to answer questions about being a judge and a mystery writer.  The children I spoke to were all wonderful – active, bright, and engaged.  Their outfits reflected their personalities and the fact that they probably all now chose their own clothing for school. Some of the boys sported red Alabama hoodies, there was a lone LSU t-shirt, and one girl had sparkles on her shirt, jeans, and sneakers.

After I talked about mystery writing, the teacher requested me to discuss ways to get around writer’s block.  I told the students they could journal or write a few lines about something they observed in their respective lives and that maybe, one day in the future, one of their notes would become the basis for a story.  We role-played taking a simple observation and fashioning it into something more.  With the give and take of the class, my speaking time went by quickly.

I was packing up my Chanukah props when the teacher asked if I would listen to a student’s story. “Of course,” I replied.  I cringed at the request especially when I realized the would-be author reminded me of Luna in the Harry Potter books. Throughout my talk, the child had never cracked a smile.  Her clothing was a mishmash consisting of old tennis shoes with pink laces, striped blue and grey leggings covered by a green frilly skirt that only stayed on because of its tight elastic waistband, and a flowered grey and green shirt. She looked from her teacher to me and back to her encouraging teacher.  Then, her long blonde curls dusting her shoulders, she glided from the story circle to her desk.

She came back with a blue cloth-covered journal. We pulled two second grade chairs next to each

other and then head bent, finger under each word, she slowly read to me. When she finished, she glanced at me and then stared at her journal.  Neither she nor I said anything for a moment. I don’t know if it was fear or simply shyness that kept her silent.  Me? I was blown away.

I found my tongue and praised her work by making comments about how it was structurally better than many stories written by adults.  I pointed out how well she had developed high and low points that worked as act changes that successfully moved the story forward and I told her repeatedly how mature the final resolution was.  As I spoke, she visibly relaxed. When she was slipping the book back into her desk, I thought I saw the sliver of a smile when I told her to “keep writing.  I look forward to reading more of your work.  You have the gift.”

She may never write another story, but I hope she does because today, I met an author.

The Mind of a Writer

by Sparkle Abbey

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing.
Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by
feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a
good day.”

Not exactly complimentary, yet as soon as Robert DeNiro
delivered those words on the Academy Awards show last Sunday, Facebook and
Twitter lit up with cyber-nods of agreement from writers everywhere.

Yes, we’re an odd lot.
So what really goes on in the mind of a writer? 

For most of us we’ve always known we were different. Or at some point we’ve had an ‘ah-ha’ moment where we realize that not everyone rewrites the endings of books or movies.

Writers are curious. We’re interested in almost everything. We take movies apart, we question, we dissect. Writers study people and things and motives and places. We wake up in the middle of the night and write down story ideas. Sometimes they even make sense in the morning. 

A writer’s mind wanders off – sometimes in the middle of a conversation. We’re sorry about doing that. It’s not that we’re inattentive or uninterested in what you’re saying. It’s just that something you said clicked in our heads, and suddenly we’ve figured out that troublesome plot point. Or you said some random thing like “oranges” and it get us thinking about Florida and we realize our suspect couldn’t have been the real killer because he was on a plane to the Sunshine State.

We shamelessly eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations. Writers are people-watchers. Observers. We wonder what makes people do what they do. And then we wonder what might make them do something different. We ask, “What if?” The writer’s mind is always working. Always questioning. Writers see story possibilities in almost every situation. An off-hand comment, a newspaper article, an overheard personal drama.

Writers spend hours searching for the perfect word. We work very hard to find the precise words to describe for you the stories in our heads. To help you see the characters who are so real to us. Then we change the words, polish them, revise them. Sometimes we dump full sections of a chapter we’ve spend hours on. And then we begin again. We want it to be perfect. Yet we know it can’t be.

The writer’s mind is packed with worry. When we’re stuck, the doubts come trooping in. Can we do it? Maybe this time we really did bite off a story idea too big for our skills.

The mind of a writer is also magic. It creates people and worlds from nothing more than a speck of an idea. And then it somehow gives us just enough courage (or maybe insanity) to throw our hearts, our stories, out there to share with the world.

At least on a good day.

Our publisher has recently repriced all of our backlist on Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook and we also participated in a fun short story collection. We hope you’ll check it out. 

Writing Dangerously

by Bethany Maines

Writing isn’t known for being a terribly dangerous activity.
Not to say that writer’s in history haven’t faced down terrible physical
dangers – Hemingway nearly died in a couple plane crashes, Hunter S. Thompson
got stomped by Hell’s Angels – but I think it can be argued that most writers
are the stay at home type of people who enjoy sitting still for long periods of
time. Other than occasionally chasing sources down a street and tackling them a
la His Girl Friday (a classic, by the
way, go watch it immediately) the danger most writer’s face is purely internal.
From boredom, alcholism, and writer’s block to children
demanding attention, the biggest danger to writing is usually that writing
won’t get done.  But that’s not to
say that writing doesn’t come with a few physical dangers.  We’ve got carpal tunnel wrists, hunched
backs, tweaked necks, and frozen tootsies. The problem with being the kind of
people who can sit still long enough to write a book is that sitting still is
bad for you.  Humans are meant to
move and as our modern way of life moves ever closer to turning us into cyborgs
we have to remember to get up, walk around the block, and blink those bleary
eyes at the sun.
Which is why my foray into National Novel Writing Month is turning
out to be so painful. I admit it, I’ve been slacking off in the writing
department for the last few months, but I failed to realize that a consequence
would be that when I returned to it, I would be so out of shape for writing.  My neck muscles do not appreciate
looking down at a screen for multiple hours on end. My wrists are wondering
just what the heck all this typeity typeity is about and my eyeballs are more
than a little bit annoyed to be staring at a screen more than they already do
for their day job. I’m fortunate enough to know a masseuse who can usually
squeeze me in on demand, but that means NaNoWriMo is going to be a very
expensive proposition for me.
Well, while I take a stretching break perhaps we should
celebrate those author’s who got out there and put some danger besides
scoliosis in their lives.
Author’s Living Dangerously:
Maggie Baribieri – Our fellow Stiletto Gang member is still
taking cold showers without power post-Hurricane Sandy
Elmore Leonard – worked as Seabee during WWII
Hunter S. Thompson – managed to find a variety of ways to
get himself hurt for Gonzo Journalism
Louis L’Amour – worked as professional boxer
J.R.R. Tolkien – served in WWI
Lillian Hellman – forced to testify before the House
Un-American Committee about her “Communist” ties
Bethany Maines is
the author of Bulletproof Mascara, Compact With the Devil and
Supporting the Girls.
Catch up with her at www.bethanymaines.com or check out the new Carrie Mae youtube video.