Work (#paranormalhotel)! Work (writing horror)! Work (interviewing Hunter Shea)!

Thank God I love the kind of work I do, because – lately – there’s been plenty of  it!

Paranormal Hotel:

I’ve returned to working full-time at the #paranormalhotel – at least for the next few weeks. (A staff member has had a family emergency.) I’d always hoped I’d be able to go back part-time this summer, but I wasn’t expecting this. Because I recently trained Langston for the job, I was almost completely up to speed when I was called back, but there was some adjustment required.

Highlights:

  • there’s new staff  & new linens
  • we have a laundry room for guest use now
  • rates have gone up
  • the commercial dryer is dying (which makes doing the laundry even more time-consuming)

Otherwise, most everything is the same.

Camp NaNoWriMo:

When I found out I’d be going back to the hotel, I feared I’d fail to meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goals, so I took a deep breath and plunged in. I’m not at goal yet, but I’ve managed to get an awful lot done and I think I’ll make it. I haven’t been taking the time to properly track anything (or participate in the camp festivities) but I just did a quick tally of hours spent story mapping and drafted words and come up with 23,137. Tell me that’s still within reach!

Bugaboo Road

Hunter Shea’s book tour:

Just five minutes ago, I finished reading Hunter Shea’s new novella, The Waiting. This is a good thing, because – in about an hour – I’ll be settling in with him on Skype, to do the first official interview ever for The Paranormalist.

In a way, I’m glad I had to hustle up and get the reading done in one sitting, right before the interview. The details of the story will be fresh when I ask him all the questions I have roiling around in my brain. My plan is to have at least one segment of that interview packaged and available for viewing here tomorrow. Right now I can tell you it’s a fast, tight, eerie read which still manages to be emotionally affecting.

By the way, I want to thank you all for making the book giveaway I recently sponsored a great success. The winners have all been notified, and – as far as I know – the books are winging their way to their new owners.

Earlier this week, as we were arranging our interview time, I asked Hunter to decide what we’d be drinking tonight. Now, I have to run over to the liquor store to see if I can find any Captain Lawrence pale ale. As a cheap-American-beer-drinker, I’m glad he didn’t suggest Guinness.

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Click here to get your copy. You still have time to read it before the interview series begins.

 

 


Triggering hypomania in search of the muse.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, until I got an email invitation to participate. The atmosphere for camp events appears more relaxed than November’s nano. You can set your own word count goals.You can continue an existing manuscript.  You can revise and/or edit, as long as you can come up with a fair equation for comparing such work to raw prose generation.

2013-nanowrimo camp fb cover

At the time, I was thinking, “Hey. My work schedule has mostly settled down to 3 nights a week. The boy seems to have a handle on school. Ogre likes his new job. The days are getting longer … yep, it’s time to settle down and do this.” I carefully examined my available time and set an ambitious but manageable goal: to spend the month of April editing the complete Lizzy novel. I figured the pass I intended to make would require between 80 – 90 hours. (This goal, btw, required me to actually finish writing the ending to Lizzy’s novel in March.) I set to work with a will.

In the last year, I’ve been counting on one of the two effective strategies for generating content: slow, steady, consistant work. I managed to get 50,000 words down in Novemeber 2012 by carving slots of time from my schedule so that I could put my butt in the chair every day for a set period of time. I planned to schedule my way through editing the Lizzy novel too.

Then my boss called to tell me he’s going out of town … three times in March and April. Consequently, I will be back to working more than full-time for three of the next six weeks. And a lot of it is bad: Seven days in a row. Nine days in a row. Working until midnight, then back at the desk by 9:00a the next day. My available time was obliterated.

Then I had a melt down, which I didn’t post.

Then I made a decision to suck it up, which I did post.

Then – the good news – my daughter (of recent button-making fame) called to tell me she is coming home from North Carolina for her friend’s wedding. And she’ll be staying with us for 16 days. I was ecstatic until I remembered the insanity of my work schedule in April. I checked the calendar and discovered that most of her visit does not overlap with my boss’s trips.

Then I called my boss. I explained the situation and told him I would abide by the schedule he’d made for the weeks he was going to be gone, BUT that I wanted a total of four days off on the other weeks. He balked at first, but I held my ground. It’s complicated, but I will only have to work five of the sixteen days she’ll be here. (He’s still pestering me about one Saturday, but I will not yield. What’s he gonna do? Fire me?)

Then I sat down with the calendar again, and recalculated the month. This time, instead of looking for available writing slots, I assessed the big picture.

Spring is coming. My family will be together. My mood is likely to be positive. I figure, maybe it’s time to return to my old ways … to the OTHER effective strategy for making prose happen … getting caught up in the story and succumbing to the muse. (Am I the only one who thinks “the muse” is just a romantic way to describe the hypomanic state?) In my schedule, I blocked out additional space for sunshine, exercise, flirtations, adventures, nutritious and delectable foods, and copious amounts of caffeine, chocolate and liquor. 

So now, I have decided not to drop out of Camp NaNoWriMo, but I have revised my goal so I won’t go insane. I will not likely finish a complete editing pass in April, but I can make a big dent.

I’m heading out for the gym. Then I’m going to have a date with my husband. Then I’m going to stay up late and write.

Let’s see if this works.


Consider yourself drunk dialed. (Updates on every little thing.)

Hi gang! I’ve had a day that came off the rails. I thought I’d be spending this Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo but, instead, I ended up helping my son register for too many credits at the community college, then going to work, even though it was supposed to be a day off. It wasn’t a bad day … just not what I expected. Consequently – and somewhat surprisingly – I’m now drinking my third beer, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little squirrely. That’s your warning that I’m feeling informal and chatty. Stay or go as you desire.

First, let me share a couple of personal pictures. (Because I just posted them on my real-life FB, and they are cute.)

Mr. Paranormalist.

This is my husband. In the last 18 months or so, he’s lost a LOT of weight (because he decided it was time to do so.) Now he looks pretty much the way he did when I married him. I sometimes wonder if he’s not secretly some kind of immortal. Otherwise, how could he still look so young? I haven’t yet decided if he’s vampire or were.

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Mr. Paranormalist, the younger.

This is my son, who let me make him up as a version of my hypnotist clown for Halloween. He’s REALLY didn’t like me messing with his eyes – and he was kinda squirmy in general – so I couldn’t get the clean lines I wanted, but it didn’t turn out too bad.

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There. With that out of the way, I can settle in and share the bits ‘o news I have.

WriMoProg / NaNoWriMo

A couple of nights ago, I updated my home-grown writing challenge / tracker page (WriMoProg) with this month’s goals which – for this one month only – pretty much equate to NaNoWriMo. I detailed my plans there, but the gist is that I’m joining in on the insanity for the first time. I’m behind at the moment, but I have 3000 words done. The intention is to catch up tomorrow (now that I’ve thrown my hands up for this one evening and commenced to screwing around.)

Halloween

We had a pretty good holiday, though not nearly enough trick or treaters came to our elaborately decorated apartment door.

Welcome to our treat station.

Do you see those brown paper boxes stacked up behind the treat-filled book? Those were filled with a set of construction cards that my son had outgrown. Our intention was to give this special prize to the first witch or wizard who came to the door. My boy was pretty excited about the whole handing out treats thing … he had never had the chance to do it before, because we lived so far out in the country.

We got a basketball player, a firefly, a girl in an orange shirt, a generic super-hero, an Arabian princess and a bug. Then there were no more.

Once we thought the festivities were over, my son and I decided to tour the building to see if anyone else had gone all out. (Nope.) When we were returning to the apartment, however, we were delighted to hear “I can’t believe I got the special prize!” We rounded the corner and saw a 12-13 year old girl, in full Hogwart’s regalia, showing the boxes to  her mom. My beloved had awarded her the cards. She was thrilled. And so were we.

On his Facebook page, my son later posted, “Getting trick or treaters might be the best thing ever.”

By 10p, we had disassembled all of our decorations and packed them away. I carved two more Jack-o-lanterns, just because I could.

I carved them mostly so I could roast the seeds. I finished at 11:57p on Halloween night.

 Then Halloween was over.

Except, it’s never really over, is it?

I don’t know if I’m really going to do this as the year progresses, but it amuses me tonight.

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The must-see horror movie list

I’ve been making some progress on my required viewing. Thanks to a tip from Hunter, I settled in with The Cabin in the Woods a few nights ago. It will absolutely go onto a list of the best, I just haven’t yet figured out which one. I’ve also seen The Mist (which was pretty good, then pretty awful, then mind-blowingly amazing) and Repulsion (which was a challenging but rewarding slog, and destined to go onto the psychosexual horror list that I STILL don’t have enough entries for.) I’ll be puttering and updating the lists when I’m done here.

The hotel

Sometimes I think I should make a whole new blog just for detailing the goings on at the hotel. Right now I’ll settle for one quick update, for those who are following along. Remember the guy that told me cleaning elevators wasn’t my strong suit? Yeah. He completely lost it. Within a couple of days of my post (on October 17th) he had alienated every resident and staff member at the hotel. He checked out. Then he came back and claimed that he’d left valuables in his room: a pair of shoes and a box full of winning scratch off tickets – hundreds of dollars worth of scratch off tickets. He was convinced the housekeeping staff had rejoiced at their good fortune and absconded with his property. Then he made some racial slurs to back up his theory. He wanted to call the police into the situation.

It came to a head on a day I didn’t work. My boss acquiesced and phoned the cops. The officer, I was told, attempted to make peace by suggesting that the guest (Joe) be given one free night’s lodging, in exchange for refraining from haranguing hotel staff while other guests waited. After that, we thought it was over.

Except, it wasn’t.

He showed up a few night’s later, while I was working. He seemed to be back to his old self. Calm. Competent. Sane. He rented a room for just one night, at full price, with no argument. I should have known that wasn’t a good sign.

Several hours later, I was approached by a set of three parents who wanted me to help find their underage children, whom them knew were in the hotel somewhere. They were sure there was drinking, and possible drug use, going on. While they were talking to me, one young boy made the mistake of visiting the snack machine. He was recognized by the parents and questioned about the room in which the party was taking place. He lied repeatedly, offering up a variety of random room numbers (which did not actually exist in the hotel.) When he’d rattle off a room number, I would subtly shake my head, and the questioning would continue. When he said they were in the room Joe had rented earlier, I shook my head again. Tired, worn down, he insisted that was really the correct room. The father in the group of parents went up with him as the boy proved his claim.

Even after the father returned, it didn’t work in my head. I had to go up there myself. Four girls – by appearance, none of them older than 15 – were still in the room. I gently questioned them about the adult that had rented the room for them. They described Joe to the smallest detail. Apparently, they had approached an “old man who was hanging out in the parking lot.” He’d agreed to rent the room for them.

Well, shit.

Epilogue: Two days later – when I was working again – Joe strolled into the lobby, bold as brass. He came to the desk, greeted me, then asked, “Is it true that I’m no longer allowed to rent a room here?”

With some satisfaction – because I don’t like to be told I am not good at cleaning anything – I said, “Yes. That’s true. I’m not to rent to you again.”

He was outraged. He wanted to know why we had harassed his guests.

I looked at him for a few seconds, then said, ” Because they were underage maybe?”

He insisted I call the police. Which I did, happily. He sat in the lobby for about ten minutes. Eventually he stood up and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to wait around for the useless cops to show up. I’ll be back. With my lawyer.”

I haven’t seen him since.

Plans for the blog

Now that I’m dedicating most of my time to generating fiction, I expect to update here a couple of times a week. Currently, I’m drafting the telling of what I saw in room 217 of the old hotel, and its companion ghost story movie list.

And that’s it, a long, rambling post on a Monday night. Please forgive me and try to remember that this is about as close to a weekend as I get.