Category Archives: My journey to writerhood

Because SOME day, I will be an actual author who is recognized for writing stuff and these are the things that will get me there. I hope.

From far beneath our home

I have a story to tell. It’s not mine, it was given to me by my mother, about her father and a house we all shared.

My grandfather was a pragmatic man, often seen with a cigar in his mouth and a drink in his hand. His were not the ways of whimsy.

He had fought in World War II, running away to join the military when he was fifteen. He saw things, though I never knew what, and that made him tough, unflappable. When he returned Stateside, he met my grandmother and the two of them later married. They lived a nomadic life, running a restaurant in one town for a few years, a farm in another. My grandfather was always on the move, even after ensconcing his family in some house or another throughout the midwest. That was just his nature, I suppose, always trailing the Next Big Thing. That’s what brought him to Colorado.

When his first two grandchildren came along, my grandfather became “Poppop” and he settled a bit. By that time, he and ZZ  lived in a yellow brick rancher with my aunt and a pair of Siamese cats in Colorado Springs. My mom and I lived with them. As far as I remember, it was wonderful. I was close to my mom, my aunt and especially my grandmother and I sure did love my Poppop. I still remember his smell, even after all this time. Nonetheless, I intrinsically understood that Poppop, though a jokester, was not prone to flights of fancy. Nothing rattled him. He showed anger, but never fear, never worry. He had an explanation and a plan for everything. He was a solid, down-to-earth man.

Many Colorado towns are built over old mines. Miners would stake their claims, dig their holes, and once prosperity hit, a town would grow up, buildings rising from the rocky ground like weeds. As time passed, the mines shut down but the towns continued to grow and spread until they were over the top of these abandoned man-made tunnels in the earth. There are some years, especially in wet springs, when sidewalks, houses, entire streets will sink suddenly down a collapsed mineshaft.

And there are also nights when the souls of miners who perished under the earth, away from the sun, far from loved ones, resurface to find their ways home. Poppop met one of these miners.

Chelton road

Our story takes place in this neat, quiet neighborhood.

After ZZ & PopPop moved into the little yellow brick house, the women-folk of the family started feeling things: a malevolent presence, something bad. Poppop laughed at his wife and daughters, made fun of them, did not believe them, yet, still, they warned him: there was something not right in the house.

He was a land salesman at the time and early one morning, he was getting ready to go to work. He finished his bathroom ablations, smacking aftershave on his newly-smoothed cheeks, then he crossed the hallway and walked into the living room, no doubt thinking of the day before him. As he turned toward the kitchen where the coffee waited, he happened to glance to his right and saw someone sitting on the couch. Not someone who lived in his house, though. There was an old miner, sitting, waiting. He looked at my grandfather…and then he faded away.

Colorado miners

“Skip 750 ft. under ground in Colorado mine”
Are any of these men currently haunting people in their living rooms?

The man who felt no fear, who mocked his family for their otherworld sensitivities, who never ran away with his imagination had just seen a ghost and it freaked him out. He was so alarmed, he rushed to tell ZZ what had happened, admitting she’d been right, the house was haunted.  He was still visibly shaken or, as he may have put it, “scared shitless,” by the time my mom heard his tale. I imagine she felt rather smug seeing her father in a tizzy over a ghost when the rest of the family had been living with it all along.

After enough time passed, he stopped talking about his experience. In fact, he never spoke of it again. But he also never tried to convince anyone that ghosts don’t exist again, either.

As it turns out, the ghost of the miner was just passing through. It wasn’t the source of the hateful feeling found in the house. No, that one stayed and you’ll hear more about it next week.

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Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My journey to writerhood

‘Tis the season to be scary

The spiced cider is burbling away in the kitchen, candles are flickering, and there’s a strong wind rattling the windows. Have a seat in my little cabin and let me tell you a story, a mild tale intended more for wonder than fright.

Years ago, I worked with a delightful woman. Her name was Karen (I say “was” because she is no longer with us, though maybe she is with us right now, listening to this tale) She was awesome. And crazy. And hilarious. We worked late together, alone in our office, long past the time when streetlights came on. We would sit at our desks, cackling and carrying on, sometimes to the point that people from other departments had to walk over and tell us to shush.

Karen was one of those good souls, the type of person everybody should be blessed with as a friend. She would call me when I was home sick to give me the day’s work-related news; she always remembered my birthday; she did recon on one of my ex-boyfriends and we said horrid things about him and his post-me lifestyle; she gave me her unwise shoe purchases (she couldn’t wear heels above 2 inches but bought them anyhow. Then she’d try to wear them but would fail and end up giving them to me because they were “just too cute to go to waste”) When I was looking for a new place to live, she just happened to be looking for a tenant for her parents’ house, a place that had been rented-out since her parents had died years before.

It was a wonderful house – split level on a corner with a landscaped yard. My friend and I, we moved in right away and later, Noelle and Little B joined us later. I loved living there, some of my favorite memories come from our time in that little home we’d made for ourselves. Except for the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t love it so much. It was an eyesore – small and rectangular, covered in a ghastly wallpaper that made a person dizzy. It wasn’t much different from this, actually, just smaller print in a much smaller space:

The color scheme was the same – red on cream – and the busy-ness was there. Our wallpaper, though, was made of a bunch of small, red diamonds that were actually made of four dots. It really did make a person dizzy to be locked in such a tiny room with such dotty/diamondy wallpaper.

So one day, I asked Karen if I could re-do the bathroom. She told me to have at it and I did. Only, here’s the thing: The wallpaper, the monstrous, eye-hurting wallpaper, had been glued directly to the drywall. That meant that even with steaming, removing the wallpaper brought giant chunks of plasterboard with it. It was horrible. I had friends come over and help and every single one left crying. My roomie and I spent two weeks denuding the walls and every single day, I cursed the moron who stuck wallpaper glue directly to drywall and didn’t think of future house-dwellers who might need to remove said wallpaper.

Around that same time, Karen started looking worn down. She said she wasn’t sleeping well at night. She felt jittery all day. One evening, quite a way into my renovation project, she said, “I’ve been having terrible dreams.” She looked awful, bags under the eyes, bruisey skin.

I asked, “Dreams about what?”

She said, “About my mother. In my dreams, my mother is terribly upset because she’s misplaced her purse and I’m trying to help her find it but I don’t know where it is and she’s so angry.”

She mentioned a similar dream a couple of days later. A little bell chimed in the back of my brain. I said, “Hey, Karen, the bathroom downstairs, who put up the wallpaper?”

She said, “My mom. She’d been so proud of it. She hung it all by herself, decorated that room all by herself.” I nodded, put my head down, and got back to work.

The minute I got home that night, I ran downstairs, stood in the bathroom with its pockmarked, crumbling walls from whence wallpaper had been ripped violently away, and yelled,

I AM SORRY! I DIDN’T KNOW! I AM SURE IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AT THE TIME. I NOW UNDERSTAND THAT YOU LOVED THIS ROOM BECAUSE YOU MADE IT YOURSELF! I DIDN’T KNOW AND I SHOULD HAVE ASKED BEFORE CHANGING IT. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR DAUGHTER ALONE! I AM SO SORRY FOR EVERYTHING I SAID!

Then I sat down and explained my vision – grayblue wainscotting with sky blue wall and ceiling, clouds dotted up top. I’d paint a tranquil sea along the trim and my roommate would decorate the room with seashells and lighthouses. I mentioned that it would be a peaceful place in an otherwise dark corner of the basement, just as she’d originally intended. Then I got to work. The rest of the wallpaper came off like I was peeling skin from a sunburn.

I was sitting at my desk the next day when Karen walked in. She looked great! No more dark circles or saggy skin. I asked how she’d slept and she said, “I haven’t slept that well in I don’t know how long.”

“So, no dreams about your mother?”

She thought about it and said, “No. She’s fine now.”

I apologized to Karen for causing her such trouble and when she asked what I was talking about, I told her, “Your mother knows.”

For Karen: I hope the afterlife is everything you wished it to be. I miss laughing with you.

And for Dana since you got to share this adventure with me. We had some good times there, didn’t we?

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Filed under Adventures, For my short story collection, In my backyard, My journey to writerhood

Milestone Marker: 1 Year

As of today, this blog has been alive for ONE WHOLE YEAR!

kermit-yay-flail_2745106_GIFSoup.com

YAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!
(courtesy of GIFsSoup.com)

When I opened this baby up for business, I had a couple of goals in mind. Just so you don’t have to go find them yourself, I’m going to list them here.

Purpose:

I think a blog could be a good exercise in keeping things concise, for working on my actual writing skills, and in finding my voice.

And how has that been working for me? Well, I edit as I write now. When I started this whole shebang, I wrote pages and pages of stuff and had to edit it down to a much smaller piece. It was tedious and painful and because I only have small windows of time in which to write, I had to find a way to become more efficient so I could get more done. Turns out, being able to figure what’s going to get cut in advance helps a ton. Why didn’t I have this skill earlier in life? It would have helped me immensely in school.

As for my writing skills…well, I suppose readers would be a better judge, but…no, I don’t think I’m becoming a better writer. In fact, I think the opposite is happening. I’m becoming a faster writer, a more thoughtful-of-the-process writer but I think I’m backsliding when it comes to the actual telling a story aspect. Because I’m so busy zipping through and not pouring everything out onto the page, I don’t get to uncover the little gems I like best in my own writing. There’s less drama, true, but also missing are those wonderful little quips that fall out when I’m writing to tell a story. Writing to keep to my goal creates a totally different style, one that’s not so great, actually. Honestly, while I like the structure of making sure I have a post up every week, I don’t enjoy the actual writing so much anymore. It’s so boring.

And finding my voice? No, I’m not finding my voice. Do I even have a voice? I don’t know. But it’s not showing up here. So I’ve taken to writing in my diary when I can and working on stories in those rare moments I have nothing else I need to do. Maybe my writing style and my voice will show up there.

These were my stated goals:

1. Post once a week.

You know? I’ve been pretty damn good about this. I skipped one week and I slapped together a couple of pretty weak posts when I couldn’t think of anything else to write but hadn’t finished editing any of the drafts in the hopper. But there is something there for every week and that is actually impressive. Good job, me!

2. Post only on the following topics:
My Adventures to include those that happen in my own backyard or while I’m housesitting as well as adventures abroad
-Tales from Toiletopia. A few people already know this: I LOVE toilet stories. I have great ones and I enjoy those told to me by others. Potty humor just cracks me up! Because I am a 12-year-old boy, apparently.
-My journey to writerhood. I don’t imagine there will actually be too many posts about this topic, but you never know. Crazier things have happened.
-My Dearly Beloveds. All the fun stuff about friends, family, and my cats or any future critters who join our circus.
-My Phenomenal Fake Life. This will be about the amazing things that happen in my life, only it’s the life that only exists in my imagination.
-My Opinions On Stuff. Probably reviews on books and movies. Maybe thoughts on video games. Who knows. I’ve already got a whole slew of book reviews up onGoodreads, so maybe just general things that entertained me. Or maybe this is where I’ll go all ranty and stuff. Who really knows at this point.  

I’m going to be honest – I stretch those topics like they’re made of Silly Putty. I run so loose with this self-imposed rule, there’s no point in the rule. But I made those topics into categories (I think they show up over there –> ) and since I like to lump things together, they stay.

3. Posts will have a one page limit.  A Word document page, I mean. That’s, what? Around 450ish to 700ish words, depending on spacing? 

Ok, I tried. I really did. I had given myself wiggle room for actual stories and the infomercials I didn’t know I would write and really tried to keep everything else tight. But, come on, I have a lot to say and even with my new, efficient editingness…I’m weak, ok? WEAK! I love words. I love to write them and type them and say them and I don’t want to hold them back! They have things to do, stuff to say! I need to give them their freedom! Even so, I’ve been fairly good at keeping most posts under 900 words (the picture captions do NOT count toward that number because that would be dumb. Those are totally different stories)

So what have I taken from this exercise?

Well, maybe I’m not a writer, so much. I might be a better editor. Or perhaps web comic illustrator.

Will I continue with the blog?

Yes, I will. I like it. Despite everything I’ve said, I enjoy reading back through my posts. I look for progress, for ideas, for…I don’t know. But you know what I like best? The comments. My commentors are so good at their job! That is what brings me the most joy.

Ok, that’s not all true – I also love watching my little map fill up; I feel like I’m taking over the world. As of this post, my blog has been viewed in 54 countries! And you know which country* is my biggest fan? Turkey. They always search for “ekgo” and wind up here. I love you, Turkey! Thanks for all the hits! I think you’re looking for a band or a singer and I am sorry I am not that person, but stick around anyhow! It will be fun!

*The US, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia are numbers 1-4, respectively, but don’t count because those are all friends and family reading whereas I know NOBODY in Turkey but get traffic from them at least twice a month anyway.

Will I still follow all my rules?

No, probably not. That page limit rule is going right out the window. While I don’t want to go crazy and write tomes of crap, I also don’t want to limit myself anymore. I tried my best, it didn’t help my writing, I’m letting that restriction go. Starting now. We’re already around 1,000 words and I have more to say. Like pondering whether or not I will keep with the post every week rule. I need to make time to write and this seems to be the best way to do it because I’m held accountable even if it’s only to myself. I mean, it’s obvious if I didn’t take the time to create a post because nothing appears. It’s sort of hard to lie to oneself when the evidence is ON THE INTERNETS!

And since I’m on the topic of me, here are the stats I find the most interesting regarding my site:

My most popular posts are:

#5: My True Friends: A Spoken Word Poem It comes up in a lot of searches for spoken word poetry about friendship. I can only imagine how surprised the readers are when they find out the poem is about poop.

#4: Pushing Up Daisy This post got shared a couple of times on Facebook so the readership skyrocketed for a couple of days. I don’t know how I feel about my dog dying being popular. Both good and not good, I guess.

#3: Merry Christmas, I Know About Your Affair, Pt. 3 So the weird thing is parts 1 and 2 didn’t have as many readers (though they’re in places 8 & 6) and I wonder why the final post got so many views? I guess some readers didn’t care what happened in the first two parts of the story and just wanted to skip ahead to the end?

#2: Stalkers: A Serious Post I can’t explain this one. It went nuts the week it came out and I don’t know why. Yes, I should be running Google Analytics on this site and no, I’m not, and yes, that’s a terrible oversight but moving on: I really don’t know what happened with this post.

And my very most popular post: When You’re Sure, You’re NovaSure This gets at least one hit every week. It’s been retweeted, it’s been shared, it comes up in searches for NovaSure, endometrial ablation, mammograms, periods…pretty much anything that has to do with womens’ health. I sort of feel like maybe I’m helping people find information they need. I like that.

What do my top posts tell me? There are two meant-to-be-funny ones, one of which is part of a super-long story and the other is full of good search terms. The other three are serious, one sad, one scary, and one medical-y. Yeah, I don’t know that this tells me anything, actually.

In the name of fairness (and self-promotion), I will also list my bottom posts (not posts about my butt. I don’t actually have one of those, even with a poem about poop). These all have less than 15 views (though that will change if you people click the links below. Mwahahaha!)

Third from the bottom: Writers, Come to Me Yeah, I know exactly why this one didn’t do well. It was one of those I just wrote on the fly and shoved out there to have something in the space. It was totally random and it is not very fun to read. It does have good pictures, though. I mean, come on, there’s a squirrel!

Penultimate bottom: Little Housesitter On the Prairie Honestly, I thought this one would be more popular. I mean, it’s all deep and thoughtful and crap, it’s got pretty pictures, and it’s short. What’s not to love? Something, apparently, because it was not loved.

On the bottom: Maxwell Bug: Good To the Last Dot This never shows up in searches. Ever. Because there are no search terms. Also, it’s about bugs and if anyone remembers the Maxwell House commercials, I can see how one could assume by the title that I was grinding up insects and making a hot beverage of them and, really, who wants to read that? Probably no one. No one but me. Because that sounds pretty hilarious, actually.

But wait! There’s more!

This is where I share the strangest/most delightful search terms to have shown up in my stats. They won’t compare to anything Jeneral Insanity or Sunny Days in DC get, but they’re still pretty odd.

why are my feet dying up and scabbing Dear Searcher, I am sorry I could not answer your question. I don’t actually know why the internet even sent you to me. If foot lotion + wearing socks and shoes isn’t working for you, you may want to see a doctor.

hoofy and coop I, uh…what? I don’t even…how did that lead here? Seriously!

beautiful blonde women santa lingerie naked I know exactly what this hit on but it cracks me up every time I see it because I have absolutely no relation to (or with) beautiful blonde women in Santa lingerie who are also naked.

dumbass children This is one of my tags so, again, I know why this search landed here. What I want to know is why this searcher was searching for dumbass children. You can just, like, go outside and wait a bit and BAM! There they are.

use these letters to form a word e k g o and c Again, I know why I got this but I want to yell at the person who typed that into their browser, “THE ANSWER IS GECKO, YOU FREAKIN’ CHEATER! YOU SHOULD HAVE WORKED IT OUT ON YOUR OWN, WITHOUT THE INTERNET!”

what percentage of people get punctured from novasure WHAT?? DUDE! My doctor never listed puncturing as a possible “By the way, this could go wrong” scenario! Holy hell! What is happening in those backalley ablation clinics???

my sister is white trash and also i thought i knew all the things from my white trash childhood Just…BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

unsolutioned ails I…don’t even know…what this means. I should probably Google it.

And to the person(s) who keep trying to find out: straw bale garden combustible? Well, they are made of STRAW BALES and those things go up like, um, a piggie’s house on fire BUT! They are also used in flood areas because they retain water like mad so if you keep them well-watered, you’d have to use gasoline to get them to light. Ok, I don’t know that for a fact, but, logically, if you water the bales when you water the garden, they shouldn’t burst into flames. Unless it’s spontaneous combustion, like you get when you keep oil-soaked rags all stacked up in a corner. In which case, just make sure there’s nothing else flammable near your spontaneously-combusting straw bale garden.

And now to bring this all to a close: Happy birthday to me and to my blog. Thank you, readers who read this every week! I hope my stories have made you laugh a bit. Thank you, readers who pop in and comment! I love hearing from you! And thank you, random person who found this via a crazy search. I probably didn’t answer your question (unless it was about exploding straw bale gardens) but I’m glad you came by anyhow. I look forward to abusing you all for another year!

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Filed under My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF

Stalkers: A serious post

Warning: This is not a fun story. In fact, it could be considered scary and may trigger unpleasant feelings, memories, or emotions. If you feel stalking is a sensitive subject, please skip reading the rest of this and go do something light-hearted that will bring you joy, like watching kittens eat ice cream.
Continue reading

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF, Out & about or abroad

Writers, come to me

I have this great plan that will involve lots of help from friends as well as copious amounts of moolah. See, there’s a mansion in my town that’s up for sale, complete with acreage, about a town-block’s worth, and views. It’s lovely, all nestled up against the mountains and it’s only like a million and a half dollars! I am going to win the lottery/get a giant inheritance from an unknown benefactor/go gangbusters on Kickstarter or something equally unlikely that will provide me with piles of cash, then I’m going to buy this mansion and turn it into a writer’s retreat! As in a place for writers to retreat, not a place that teaches writing classes, though, come to think of it, that could be an option as well.

Here’s the mansion that will become my writer’s retreat. It’s so popular that even those evil deer who mug poor townsfolk for their birdseed hang out here.

This is a great idea for several reasons.

Reason 1: I know a lot of authors. They often need help finishing their stories and help could easily come in the form of a quiet room with no distractions and I would totally be able to provide that with my writers retreat.

Reason 2: I stalk many other authors and once the authors I know started telling their author friends about the fabulous place they stayed and all the inspiration they received and the wonderfulness of the quiet mansion in the mountains, said stalked authors would be intrigued enough to want to try it out themselves. In essence, they would PAY me to stalk them! How perfect is that?

Reason 3: Something useful needs to be done with that mansion and making it available to artists would not only bolster my town’s economy somehow but it would also make people care about the mansion and they’d want to help with its upkeep. I don’t really know how that one works but in my mind it does so we’ll go with it.

The mansion would not be open all year, though. Oh no no. It would close to the public from October 1st through January 1st. In October, I’d hire (because I’m rich, remember) costumey and theatery people from the local colleges to decorate the house and grounds for Halloween and then we’d have a ginormous party the night thereof. The whole town would be invited. It probably wouldn’t be very safe because that is not my first priority, but it would be extremely fun.

In November, I’d invite all my friends and family over for Thanksgiving and the cool thing is that I’d have plenty of room for everyone to stay a few days.

In December, we’d have wintertime parties GALORE! I’m pretty sure there’s a festivity for almost every day of that month. We would  celebrate them all, every one. Again, the entire town would be invited. There would be lights and fireplaces and hot spiced cider and a constant supply of freshly-baked cookies. It would be the highlight of everyone’s end-of-year.

See? This is what wintery festiveness will look like.

Seriously. EVERYONE in town will be invited.

I’ve got some of the staff hired already, too. Pam, one of the instigators of this blog, is going to be the overall manager and her son can be the chef. She doesn’t know that yet…well, actually, she does if she just read this. Noelle is going to be the entertainment director and will be in charge of arranging pick-ups and drop-offs of authors at the airport in addition to any fun things they want to do while they’re in town. Gabe can be one of the drivers because it means he can have a nice, new car. Bedot is going to be the hiking tour guide. My favorite nursery will be in charge of the grounds and my mom will be in charge of the indoor plants. I’ve got a lawyer, I’ve got a CPA…I think I’m set. If you want in on this, now is totally the time to sign up either as a guest or as an employee. Let me know your preferences below.

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Filed under My journey to writerhood, My Phenomenal Fake Life