Goal: Trespass onto Manitou Island – Check.

Winter is wearing on me. I didn’t intentionally save this post for January – in truth I forgot about it in the frenzy of Halloweentime – but I’m glad I have this opportunity to bring a shot of much-needed color into the month. Back in October, I wrote about Manitou Island in a post titled Islands of Immortality. (‘Cuz I’m artistic that way, and stuff.) Go have a read so you can really appreciate what I’m about to show you. I’ll wait.

Back? Ok. Not long after my courage failed me that day, I was out driving with my 16 year old son. When we got down near the lake, he expressed some interest in the arched wooden bridge that crosses a channel next to Motoska Park. I told him what I knew about Manitou Island and confided my failed attempt to explore it with Kris.

He just looked at me. (You know the look – the one that only a teenager who is disappointed in you can deliver.)

I had no alternative – we rumbled across the bridge.

After crossing the bridge and descending a hill, the road split in two. We took the right fork. The island is heavily treed and the autumn foliage was at peak. The sun shone through the canopy, which danced in a steady but mild breeze. The resulting dappled shade from the trees, and the fallen leaves we displaced as we drove, made it seem like the pavement itself was in motion. To our left, we saw a park surrounding a central, well-kept tennis court. Along our right side, multi-storied colonial-style homes, on immaculately groomed lawns, dotted the landscape. After the park, the roads that flank it merge and continue toward the island’s point.

There are, perhaps, 30 homes arranged on the island. This one is at the point:

Manitou Island, house 2012

There is a strip of semi-wild scrub between most of the manicured lawns.

Manitou Island, yellow trees 2012

Traffic on the island was light, and consisted mostly of delivery and service vehicles. We didn’t see anyone in any of the yards. We didn’t see any security personel either. Even so, we didn’t push our luck. We stayed only long enough to take a few photographs.

Manitou Island, autumn 2012

I don’t know if I’ll ever go back. I can’t imagine the island ever being more beautiful than it was that afternoon.

If I ever have to retrieve my son (and, perhaps a pretty girl) from the local police station, though, I’ll be especially understanding – It’s the least I can do for a kid who loaned me a little youthful courage on such a perfect autumn day.


The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers (and another 13+ worth watching.)

NOTE: Thank you for visiting one of the most popular articles at The Paranormalist. Occasionally, I will add a link, which may of particular interest to ghost lovers, to this area of the post. Also, please note that this list is updated frequently to reflect developments in the genre. This page is being updated in August, 2015…a bit at a time.

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The Ghost Story Genre:

In case it’s somehow possible for you to not know it, this is my favorite sub-genre of horror. Herein are the movies that most effectively creep-me-right-the-hell-out.

This is the genre that takes its time with me, the one that subtly builds eerie, evocative worlds, then populates those worlds with unforgettable characters. I remember the sly little thrills that glimmer in the corners of these films far longer than I remember the pulse-pounding chases of other sub-genres. (I am particularly vulnerable to a figure glimpsed in a mirror, or skulking through the frame, or simply manifesting quietly behind the main action.) I love the intimate scale of ghost stories. An entire tale can unfold in the space of a single room, on a single night, for a single person.

This genre’s slow and gentle approach seduces me into believing it all, even if only for a few moments. I am addicted to the escalating sense of dread provided by these films and I’m eager to share the best of the best with you.

You’ll see I’ve departed from my strict 13-best formula a little, I had to – there are just too many gems I would have had to discard if I’d remained faithful to format. It is also likely that you’ve seen many or most of the movies on the top 13 list. (Good ghost stories tend to do well at the box office.) I expanded the selection of recommendations here so there is somewhere to go after you’ve seen the blockbusters. As with all my Courting Creepy posts, I will update as I find even more great examples.

As always: Please let me know if I’m hitting my targets squarely, and feel free (even compelled) to make suggestions for inclusion.

13 ghost link button

[Click the linked titles to see each film’s IMDb entry.]

The 13 most haunting films, for ghost story lovers:

The Innocents (1961)

– Though the actual ghosts in this story are eerie, it’s the living who will unsettle you – especially the child Miles and the governess, Miss Giddens (played by a gorgeous Deborah Kerr.) That said, there is at least one chilling manifestation, near the lake, that will stay with you for a long time. It was watching this movie, back in October of 2011, that set me on the path toward Courting Creepy, though I didn’t know exactly what I planned to do at the time.

The Haunting (1963)

– Special acknowledgement for being the movie most likely to make one think twice about holding hands with someone in the dark. If it weren’t for The Changeling (below) I might list The Haunting as the best of the best. This is a classic for so many reasons. Be prepared for a leisurely pace and subtle effects.

Paranormalist-approved review, by The Angry Scholar, here.

The Changeling (1980)

– Best. Ghost. Movie. Ever.
This film’s effectiveness comes from the fact that the haunted protagonist is a smart, pragmatic, mature, manly man – John Russell – who is played beautifully by the great George C. Scott. If that’s not enough for you, there’s that creepy wheelchair too.

 

The Shining (1980)

– Special acknowledgment for implanting into my mind the ghosts that I’m most likely to hallucinate when patrolling the ever-so-long halls of the hotel on the night-shift: The Grady Girls. Despite Kubrick’s emphasis on Jack’s mental disintegration (rather than the haunts of the Overlook Hotel) the effectiveness of the ghosts themselves is not diminished. Stephen King wrote creepy ghosts, period. The key, I think is in the mysterious nature of some of the dead – one finishes the movie wanting to know more details about why the spirits roam the Overlook.

Lady in White (1988)

This movie has a passionate, loyal following, and for good reason: it’s a clean, classic ghost story, well told. As a bonus, it’s beautifully atmospheric. I mean, come on, how could it be anything less than awesome, considering it begins with an appealing little boy being locked into a cloakroom, where he witnesses the appearance of a mysterious apparition, on Halloween, 1962. (If you are looking for more movies set on Halloween, check out: 13 movies – set on or around Halloweentime – to watch in the 13 weeks before Halloween.)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

– Is there anyone alive who hasn’t seen The Sixth Sense? There’s still some fun to be had if you view it again  with the intention of pin-pointing the exact moment when you SHOULD have figured out what was going on. Better yet, find a young relative who isn’t a movie buff and watch him/her experience it for the first time. (They are easier to find than you think they’d be – my son watches no television and few movies. It’s all about gaming and the internet these days … says the old woman.)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

– I know, I know. Once a movie has been parodied as much as The Blair Witch Project has, it’s hard to take it seriously. Scoff all you like, then tell me where you’re taking your summer camping trip. I’ll be sure to drop by and leave a little arts & craft project dangling from a nearby branch. We’ll see how silly this film is then. Shaky-cam be damned – this is a scary film.

The Others (2001)

– Nicole Kidman. Elegant. Understated. Refined. Creepy as hell. And the movie is too.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

This is a special film. Though it’s set in a glaring, arid desert, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, this movie evokes a mood that is dark, lush and timeless. Mysteries and secrets hide in every shadow. The characters are compelling, and we understand the very human emotions and motivations behind their actions. It’s beautiful too. (This film is in Spanish.)

The Ring (USA, 2002)

– I preferred The Ring over the Japanese original, Ringu. The centerpiece of both films is a videotape, and it is the American version of this movie inside the movie that gets me.

The Orphanage (2007)

– By the time I saw this film (on DVD, in September 2012) I’d all but given up on contemporary horror and taken refuge in older movies. After watching The OrphanageI gushed about it here. This is the film that made me realize that great horror is still being created, it’s just that you might have to look a little harder and further afield for it than you did in the past. (This film is in Spanish.)

The Awakening (2011) *new to top 13*

– This film has just edged The Amityville Horror out of the top 13.  I worry that my modern sensibilities are making me demote films that I feel are are dated, but I’m soothed by the fact that this is an excellent period piece, set in 1921. Like many of my other favorites, it is a subtle, beautifully filmed story that unfolds slowly. This is especially fun for we paranormal folk, because the female lead is a paranormal investigator.

The Conjuring (2013)

I am not a big fan of the real-life Lorraine and Ed Warren. There I said it. ‘Seems to me they have a clear agenda, and that is to assign a demonic nature to the hauntings they come across. On the way to the movie with my husband, Ogre, I shared that opinion. (He’s not well-versed in paranormal studies, and had never heard of the Warrens.) AFTER the movie, he said, “Well it’s no wonder the Warrens approved the film, considering how the studio bent over backwards to …” be so complimentary. (I’m paraphrasing that last bit – I can’t repeat what he actually said. This is a PG-13 blog.)

But this list is about the quality of a MOVIE, not how closely it parallels true-life. For that reason, The Conjuring has rocketed into my top 13 – and I expect it to stay there. The cast is stellar, the acting superb. The production values are top-notch. It’s chock-full of effective scares. It will especially appeal to anyone who grew up in the 70s (or loves the era) – the details are dead on.

After you’ve seen this movie, do me a favor and go here: When would YOU get the hell out of the house in The Conjuring? to answer my one question poll.

movie poster the conjuring

~ bonus ghost movies ~

The Uninvited (1944)
– This is a much-beloved movie that reliably shows up on other best horror lists. Frankly, I don’t get it. It’s not even quite bad enough to make it to the campy list below.

Carnival of Souls (1962)
– A soundtrack consisting almost entirely of pipe organ music makes me crazy, but the uncanniness of Mary’s life after she survives a car wreak, takes a job in a new town, becomes obsessed with an abandoned theme park, deals with a smarmy fellow-roomer and repeatedly encounters a mysterious, threatening stranger, is strangely compelling.

Dementia 13 (1963) – *former top-13*
– The inciting story here is a bit trite and forgettable but – thanks to the much more interesting backstory about an estate’s pond – there are some killer visuals in this movie. ‘Probably most famous for being Francis Ford Coppola’s first Director credit.

The Legend of Hell House (1973)
– Special acknowledgement for most perverse ghost: Emeric Belasco. Richard Matheson adapted, and toned down, his own novel for the screenplay. Another reason to watch it: Roddy McDowell.

Burnt Offerings (1976) *new*
Karen. Black. That’s a good enough reason to watch it. Otherwise, I think it’s a bit of a slow mover with an unexpectedly shocking scene in a pool. (At least to me.) Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bloody or graphic film, but that one scene made me flinch and I still don’t like to think about it. Gotta love horror that really lingers in the mind.

The Sentinel (1977)
– Because the beginning scenes in this movie are so wooden – so reminiscent of 70s porn – my finger had half-pushed the make-it-stop button … then Burgess Meredith showed up with a cat. I set the remote aside. Several intense elements stand out in this otherwise mediocre film: the introductions of the weirdly interesting and disturbing neighbors, a quick visit from a truly terrifying apparition, and a freaky crowd scene near the end. All that said, I do like the plot of this movie – I just wish it had been made better.

The Haunting of Julia (1977) aka Full Circle *new*
– Mia Farrow stars in this haunted flat movie. Her waifish appearance and neurotic manner is perfect for the role of Julia, an American housewife who separates from her husband and moves to London after accidentally killing her own daughter in the horrifying first few minutes of the film. The unfolding of the back-story of the London ghost(s) she encounters is both puzzling and engrossing. There is a lot of (not gory) cutting and breaking going on in the movie, and I believe the ending would have made more sense to me if I had been paying closer attention to that particular motif as I watched. Part of the effectiveness of this movie comes directly from the soundtrack, by Colin Towns.

The Amityville Horror (1979) *former top-13*
– Special acknowledgement for most successful warp-age of a harmless farm-animal into a terrifying demon-creature: Jody the Pig. Not the best writing, not the best acting. But those windows! That hip-shaped roof! This film is replete with so many images and ideas that have become horror tropes that it’s a must see.

Ghost Story (1981)
–  John Houseman, Melvyn Douglas, Fred Astaire, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. – This film is worth watching if only to marvel at the ridiculously appealing cast of aged leading men. They make the young actors in the film almost invisible, even despite the full frontal nudity.

Poltergeist (1982) *former top-13*
– Like The Amityville Horror, this movie has become canon. Toby Hooper and Stephen Spielberg teamed up to give us a ghost movie extravaganza of special effects – which is cool, if you enjoy that sort of thing. As for me, though, I have nightmares about a simple and subtle effect — those damned kitchen chairs.

Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon. And who doesn’t love bacon? Seriously, this is a pretty good film which I’ve firmly wedged into this list’s sister post: 13 unsettling films – for psychological horror fans – at Halloween (or anytime.)

What Lies Beneath (2000)
– This movie stars two actors I like: Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. It’s directed by Robert Zemeckis. I remember seeing it in the theater. I’ve just read the IMDb synopsis and watched the trailer. Yet I still can’t say that it made much of an impression on me.

Session 9 (2001)
– I added this film to the list upon the suggestion of a reader. I’m still not entirely certain it belongs here, but you’ll have to decide for yourself. The question, of course, is: Does a ghost haunt this abandoned mental institution? This is an eerie, unsettling movie, and well worth watching.

Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
– I had a terrible time following the plot of this time-shifting movie, but I didn’t care – because the visual scares were just brilliant. Wonderful use of mirrors and peripheral vision shots. I can’t tell you my favorite scene of all without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen the movie, but I will tell you that it involves a bed and the direction of attack. I have not seen the American remake, The Grudge.

Gothika (2003)
– A ghost movie with the star power of Halle Barry, Robert Downy Jr., Penélope Cruz and Charles S. Dutton. Very smooth and professional treatment. Both pretty and scary, but not particularly memorable.

Fragile (2005)
– Special acknowledgement for creepiest ghost that we also feel sorry for: The Mechanical Girl.

The Skeleton Key (2005)
– A voodoo ghost story, set in a decaying plantation house, in the bayou outside New Orleans. This movie was made for me. (I have a thing about New Orleans.) The stand-out in this film is Gena Rowlands as the eccentric and unpredictable plantation owner. She deftly switches from charming to menacing and back again throughout the movie.

White Noise (2005)
– Not a great movie for me to watch this month as I prepare to do my first EVP recordings at the old hotel, in rooms 107 & 217. This is a decent movie – though probably not as scary for some as it was for me. The EVPs heard in the opening credits are purportedly genuine.

1408 (2007)
– The axe Jack Nicholson used in The Shining has a cameo in this movie. John Cusack stars in this film which is based on a Stephen King short story. You’d think I’d adore it, but it’s a little too special effects-heavy for my taste. I love reality bending in books, but it’s hard to portray it well on film. There is much to know about this film though – after you’ve seen it, read through the IMDb trivia page for lots of fun stuff.

Paranormal Activity (2007)
– This movie has some flaws, including characters that are hard to identify with or even like, and some well-parodied special effects. (Ouija board.) Despite that, I still get the willies when Katie watches Micah sleep.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
– I have dreams in which I find rooms I didn’t know existed attached to my home. In this movie, there is a locked room in the basement that reminds me of my dreams. The Haunting In Connecticut brims with make-you-jump-out-of-your-skin moments, but I have a little trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to really enjoy it – I can’t help but wonder what good mother would allow her sick, vulnerable son to choose the creepy basement room for his own when there are several perfectly good bedrooms upstairs. (Maybe there is an element, too, of being a bit freaked out, in a not-good way, by a ghost story that shows a teenage boy being tormented. My son is 17.)

Insidious (2010)
– A great all-around thriller with an involving plot, spoiled slightly by the bizarre decision to go with a Darth Maul-like makeup. Like Annie, from The Pact, this family tries to do the sensible thing when things go wonky, which makes one want to root for them.

The Innkeepers (2011) *new*
– A good movie that takes a fresh approach to about half of its content. (It’s a strange blend of  familiar, even tired, haunted-location tropes combined with innovative characterizations.) Sadly, I never really connected emotionally with any of the characters, so I wasn’t drawn in as much as I should have been. That said, it was great fun for me to see a haunted hotel film. Because of this movie, I wonder about the intentions of certain obviously single guests that check into my paranormal hotel. The movie was filmed at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, in Torrington, Connecticut, which is open for business.

An American Ghost Story (2012) *new*
– This is a micro-budget ($10,000) independent film, and it shows the love its creators have for it in every shot. There is nothing new here — in fact there is at least one very old trope — but I love it anyway. No blood. No gore. Lots of creepy atmosphere, even though it’s set in a modern house. You can watch this film with anybody except, perhaps, a very young child.

The Woman in Black (2012)
– I found the last third of this film to be a bit of a let down, but that’s only because there was so much to love in the first two-thirds. Lots of wonderful atmospheric stuff, beautifully shot.

Sinister (2012)
– A solid spooker, with some great imagery and a building sense of menace. To me, it feels very traditional, though it has its own flare. Turns out, “Writer C. Robert Cargill got the idea for the script from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring.” And that explains my perception, I think.

The Pact (2012) *former top-13*
– Special acknowledgement for the most kickass, yet entirely believable, female lead in a ghost story: Annie, played by Caity Lotz. Unlike so many films, where you find yourself thinking “what kind of idiot would actually go down those stairs,” it’s hard to fault Annie for her decisions and actions.

Mama (2013) *new*
– I have always been fascinated with feral children. The twist in this film, of course, is that the two very young children who must survive without human companionship are raised not by a wolf or a baboon, but by a non-corporeal entity. I wish the movie had spent more time on how the children lived alone and the way that effected them once they were recovered. The story of  how Mama came to be is interesting, but then the movie takes a somewhat cloying turn at the end.  Jessica Chastain does a fantastic job of showing character development in this movie as she reluctantly transforms from a happily childless rocker to a responsible parent.

~ campy fun ~

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
– Vincent Price. A vat of acid. A scattering of genuinely creepy scares. If you haven’t seen this William Castle classic, make the time.

13 Ghosts (1960)
– Another William Castle production. This one was screened with special glasses that allowed a theater-goer to “see” the actual ghosts.

The Fog (1980)
–  Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh. Oh my.

Best ghost movie ever: The Changeling.

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courting creepy logo new

Click here for more Courting Creepy.

 


9 organizational tools to improve your productivity and support your resolutions.

I’m writing this on the first of January. Visions of self-improvement and positive change are dancing in my head. Right now, it seems we’re all setting new goals, making new promises to ourselves, devising new plans of action – in short making New Year’s Resolutions, though some of us avoid using that term. Even if we reject the cultural zeitgeist, January’s dark and closed-in nature lends itself to consideration of entirely new ideas, and recommitment to ideals we’ve held for decades.

I prefer to set goals at other times – around my birthday, for example, or when the seasons change. Still, I am not immune to the vibes of this wildly optimistic month. I’ve been busy fussing over my projects and planning my upcoming year.

Instead of writing about what I intend to do this year, I thought I’d round up a collection of tools suited to supporting resolutions. I’ve tried them all, and I still use some regularly. A couple of them are my own design, but most are winnowed from years of searching through dozens of self-improvement resources. 

The truth is, I’ve never been good at sticking to a schedule or coping with repetitive tasks. I accept the fact that consistency will always be a challenge for me, thanks to my paranormal nature and choices. I’ve made peace with that.

proud to be paranormal badge

NAVIGATING MY PARANORMAL LIFE:
FINESSING BIPOLARITY. WRITING HORROR. CHASING GHOSTS.

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If you read my blog, it’s likely you’re paranormal too. (Some of you have a more than average appetite for the macabre. Some of you do battle with mood and/or health issues. Some of you are deliberately forging a unique path toward an unusual lifestyle. Almost all of you are writers. ‘Nough said?)

If these tools worked for me, they are probably well suited to you. May you find something here that helps you create your best year yet.

General organization – especially routine & accountability:

FlyLady.com:

An involved but effective system for putting your home and domestic life in order. It has a charming, gentle start path that you should follow religiously. Lots of solid organizational info. Concentrates on making repetitive tasks (cooking, cleaning, organizing) easier to handle. Use this to figure out all the stuff your parents should have taught you.

franny in the pink sweatpantsFrom the creator: “Are YOU living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) like Franny in the pink sweats? Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry friend, we’ve been there, too.”

Joe’s Goals:

I prefer a paper to-do list, but this program is a wonderfully customizable way to stay on track with daily tasks. It would work well in conjunction with the FlyLady principles. There is something very satisfying about seeing a column of green dots when you come to the end of a long day. I’d be interested to know what the interface looks and feels like on an Android phone.

Joe's Goals Banner

From the developer: “Joe’s Goals is a simple yet powerful tool to make tracking your goals the easiest part of accomplishing them. Use the simple single page interface to setup daily goals and track them with just a click. Watch your daily score to gage your success and use negative goals (or vices) to confront and overcome bad habits that finally need to get the boot. Share your success with your friends and family or post your personal score badge to your blog or MySpace page. Add as many Goals as you want and update them all from a single interface.”

Keeping Score:

This is a project I created a long time ago, which I am now dragging back into the light. It’s mostly about the process of figuring out what you could be, and should be, doing on a daily basis. In the end it becomes a daily to-do list with a twist … something that could be tracked on a program like Joe’s Goals. In it’s original (and, I think, most effective) form it is done on paper.

Oh. Go to the office supplystore and buy yourself a spindle.

Paper & a spindle.

From the author: “A Keeping Score tally is a paper list of potential tasks that you need — or like — to do. This list is first carefully designed to suit your life, then duplicated in bulk so that you may use a fresh tally to track your accomplishments every day. Creating a personalized tally requires some time and effort. Keeping a tally once it has been designed, on the other hand, is easily accomplished in just a couple of minutes each day.”

Project management – especially organization and productivity:

Getting Things Done by David Allen:

If you feel like your projects are out of control, and you haven’t yet read this classic, then get to it. Plunging into the program is a bit intimidating, but David Allen’s methods work. If you have read it, and experienced some success but then got lazy, read it again. It’s less overwhelming the second time through, once you realize this is a project management system and not a way to keep track of simple life tasks.

getting thigs done

From the author: “This groundbreaking work-life management system transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.”

Todoist:

Todoist is great for managing projects that have multiple concrete steps which can be definatively finished. (Joe’s Goals is better for ongoing, repetitive tasks.) I believe it plays nicely with google products like Google Calendar and Gmail. I used the free version of Todoist, but considered upgrading to enjoy the fancier bells and whistles that a paid account provides. I’ve since converted to a simple 101 things in 1001 days list, and WriMoProg … because almost all my projects are about writing these days.

todoist

From the developers: “Conquer complexity. Manage projects of any complexity by creating nested-tasks, adding deadlines, assigning priorities, and using color-coding. Todoist features everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

Especially for writers:

WriMoProg:

This is my own writing progress management system. Even if you don’t actively participate in the challenge, I encourage you to read the section called ‘Setting Your Monthly Goals’ before you plan another chunk of your writing schedule. The information there may help you better decide how much of your time you want to dedicate to developing a writing career.

wrimoprog 600 X 325

In the wake of National Novel Writer’s Month in November, I revised some of the information at WriMoProg so that it more closely aligns with what I experienced as I fought to get through 50,000 words.

From the developer: “The Writer’s Monthly Progress Challenge is about feeling accountable AND receiving encouragement & credit for all of our work. (Much of which, let’s face it, is invisible to our non-writer loved ones.) It is not about giving us one more thing to do that gets in the way of the actual writing. After the initial set-up, WriMoProg should take a few minutes a week.”

Write or Die:

I’m not sure I would have beaten NaNoWriMo if it hadn’t been for this app. I purchased the desktop version a few months ago and I love it. It does have some glitches, but I quickly learned how to avoid stressing the program. I guess I work better under pressure. Try it out HERE, with the free web app version.

write or die screen shot

From the developer: “Write or Die is a web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences.” READ MORE HERE.

Critique Circle Online Writing Workshop:

Critique Circle is a wonderful resource for writers who are ready to submit their fiction to review by other writers. In order to participate in the group, you must sign up for a free account. The free account works very well if you are working primarily with short stories. Effective management of a novel, as it goes through the review process, is much easier with a paid membership. I am not currently active there, because I spent too much time critiquing and not enough time writing.

critique circle

From the developers: “Membership to the Critique Circle is free and we welcome everyone interested in using an online forum to improve their writing skills while helping others improve theirs. Critique Circle is open to all genres, including science-fiction, fantasy, romance, children’s novels, horror and suspense. Members submit their stories to the story queue, and pay credits to do so. Only a certain number of stories will be displayed each week (more on this later), so you may have to wait a week or two for yours to come up, depending on how much queue activity there is. When a story comes up for critique, other members can read it and submit their critiques to the author, thus earning credits.”

And, finally, get your free wordcount meter. It looks like this:

To get this no-membership-required manuscript meter from Critique Circle, just go HERE. After you install the meter, simply clicking on it will lead you to the place where you update your word count.

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