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Today is the day for our Spooktacular Halloween Short Story Blog Fest! Later on, I’ll post a link with all the participants so you guys can check out their stories as well! Enjoy!

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What The House Knows

The house looked just like it did when I left many years before. It seemed like it took to taking care of itself, despite being abandoned for so long. The only thing different was the white paint peeling off the sides of the house and the porch railings leaned more than they did.
I stood in front of it, frozen in place, unwilling to take another step forward. I felt the memories consume me, almost to the point of suffocation. Clutching my chest, I tried to control myself. They can’t get me now, I thought. You’re safe now.
But was I really? I didn’t want to come back to this place, but my husband, Tom, thought it was a great idea.
“I want to see where you came from,” he said, smiling after announcing the idea at the breakfast table one morning. “I want to experience rural life for awhile.”
After hearing that, the only thing I could do was paste on a fake smile and nod my head mechanically. Once Tom got in an idea in his head, it was hard to get it out. Over to my left, he was pulling suitcases out of the back of our beat up station wagon. He came over to me and put his arm around my shoulders.
“Man, this place is gorgeous,” he said. “I can’t wait to start my book here.”
Tom was a great writer, but he claimed the city life was getting too distracting for him. He wanted peace and quiet. Unfortunately, I knew we wouldn’t really find that here.
“I can’t believe you still have this place. Why wouldn’t anyone else snatch it up?”
I tried to smile. “Maybe people don’t like the area. Or the house.” I added, quickly.
His eyes widened and he threw out his arms. “How could you not love this place? I think we should move here permanently.”
It felt like my heart dropped to my stomach. “Let’s not be hasty,” I replied. “I think you should stay here for a night and then think about that.”
Tom waved me away and started moving our bags into the house. A few days before, one of my parents oldest friends came in and cleaned it out for us. Matilda asked me if this was something I wanted to do and I lied. Of course it was, I said. Tom wants to see it, so what’s the harm in a few nights?
Now that I was actually standing in front of it again, I was beginning to regret those words.
Walking inside, my insides screamed out in protest. I leaned against the wall as the memories invaded my brain. I could hear the screams and the objects being thrown against the walls. Glancing over at the couch, I could still see the blood smeared on the fabric. I knew that it wasn’t the same couch that I grew up with, but it was still there. In my mind, every horrible memory was still there.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and I jumped, letting out a scream. Tom’s eyes widened and he took away his hand.
“What is the matter with you, Madeline?” he asked. “You’ve been uncomfortable since we got here.”
I shrugged it off. “Nothing. I’m fine. Maybe we should get some dinner in town. I just need to eat, I think.”
Tom nodded, agreeing that was probably a good idea. Luckily, there was no food in the house for us to eat anyways. He had no choice but to agree.
I tried my hardest to stay away from the farm as long as we could. Tom could only be distracted with dinner and shopping for so long before he wanted to get back and settle into the house. I sighed and didn’t argue with him as we went back to the house where I knew everything was waiting.
That night, I found myself wide awake while Tom continued to snore beside me. After dinner, he found inspiration on the back porch of the farmhouse. If only he knew that was where it all began.
I wouldn’t go up to the master bedroom alone. I waited for him to finally feel exhaustion and close up his laptop so we could go to bed. But, even with him sleeping beside me, I still saw the images in my mind. Looking at the new beige carpet, I still saw the pools of blood forming around their bodies. Tears sprang to my eyes as I heard the house creaking in protest. Shadows danced on the walls in the moon lit room.
Suddenly, I heard a door creak open downstairs and footsteps on the wood floors. Thump, thump, thump.
With each step, my heart started to pound faster in my chest. I sat up, shaking, wondering what to do. As the noises downstairs got louder, I shook Tom awake.
He opened his eyes and looked up at me. “What’s the matter?” he mumbled half asleep.
“There’s something downstairs,” I whispered. “I think someone is in the house.”
“What?” he asked, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “I don’t hear anything. What is going on with you?”
I sighed and shoved fingers through messy hair. “I don’t know if I can stay here. This house knows too much.”
“What are you talking about?”
A tear fell down my cheek. “My parents were murdered in this house. I found them on the floor in this room after a sleepover party. They laid on that floor, stabbed and left to bleed to death.” A crash downstairs caused me to jump out of bed.
Even Tom heard that. He took a deep breath and searched for pistol he brought with us for extra security. He bent over and kissed my cheek.
“Stay here.”
I wanted to stop him from not going, but I couldn’t find the words as he disappeared out of the room. For the next few moments, I sat in the silence of the night and prayed that it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. Everything’s fine, I thought. You’re okay.
It was the shouting that caused my eyes to fly open. The gun shot that followed made my heart leap in my chest.
As I sat there, frozen to the bed, the shadows danced more quickly on the walls. It was like they were taunting me. The creaking got louder and the room got darker. I tried to calm my nerves and see what was going on downstairs.
As I stood up my shaking body, I looked over and saw a figure standing near the doorway. I jumped back, knocking the lamp beside the bed onto the floor with a crash. It came towards me slowly and I got a closer look. With a gasp, I recognized the long brown hair and big, blue eyes.
My mother smiled at me and reached out her hands. Hesitantly, I looked at her. She seemed just like I remembered, wearing her long white nightgown with her hair spilling onto her back.
“It’s okay, Madeline,” she said. “It’s all in your head.”
As she said those words, I could see the blood forming on her nightgown. She smiled again as I gasped, rushing out of the room. I ran downstairs, anxiously searching for Tom. Please let him be okay, I thought. Please don’t let this happen to me again.
The living room appeared to be empty. There were no shadows looming above me or figures standing in the doorway.
“Tom?” I whispered. “Where are you?”
My heart continued to race as I reached over to turn on the lamp beside the couch. Walking towards it, I slipped on something wet on the floor. Catching my balance on the arm of the couch, I turned on the lamp and flooded the room with light. As my eyes adjusted to the change, I looked around the room, not finding anyone standing there. Something on the floor caught my eye and I looked down slowly. My hands went to my mouth as I saw Tom laying there with a pool of blood forming around him.
“No, no, no,” I cried. “This can’t be happening to me.”
It almost felt like the house began to shake with laughter. It knew my fears and played with them. It knew everything.
A figure appeared by the doorway and smirked at me with cold eyes staring me down. I fell down on the couch and screamed as its hands went towards me.
“Madeline? Madeline, wake up.”
My eyes flew open. I sat up in my bed, shaking and covered in sweat. Looking around, I found myself safe in my own home, far away from the house that knew everything. Tom put his hand on my shoulder, looking concerned.
“Did you have another nightmare?” he asked. When I nodded, he sighed. “Honey, that’s the fourth one this week. Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head almost violently. I didn’t want to talk about it in fear that saying it would bring it to life again.
“It’s just a dream,” I said, putting my head on his shoulder.
The next morning, Tom made me breakfast in bed. It helped ease my mind and we tried to forget the nightmare.
“You know, I’ve been thinking that we need to take a vacation somewhere. Let’s get out of the city and relax. I think that’s what you need,” he said, smiling.
I nodded my head, putting some raspberry jam on a slice of toast. “And where do you suppose we go?”
His smile got even bigger. “Well, I was thinking about that old farmhouse from your childhood.”
My hands slipped and jam spilled all over the carpets, causing a red stain. Oh, no, I thought as Tom continued to talk. Wake up. Please wake up.
But I couldn’t. It was real this time. That house and it’s inhabitants was waiting for my return.

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Happy Halloween!

It’s almost here. No, I’m not talking about NaNoWriMo this time (although it IS almost here… yikes!). This time, I’m talking about Halloween. It has to be my favorite holiday out of the year.  Even though I’m older, I still get excited dressing up as random characters/creatures. When I was a kid I had costumes like: Barbie (when I was four or so), ghosts, princesses (one year, I was Belle from Beauty and the Beast. My favorite Disney movie), generic rock stars, etc. Now that I’m older, there’s one specific thing that I like to dress up as. If you’ve been following me on Twitter or on this blog for awhile, you may be able to guess what that is. I’ll give you a moment to think.

…….

Think you got it? If you guessed zombie, you’d be correct!

Hey, it's me as a zombie!

I really can’t explain my fascination with the whole zombie culture. I just really enjoy it whether it be books (please read World War Z by Max Brooks if you haven’t. You’ll thank me later.) or movies (Shaun of the Dead, please!). Halloween is the one time of the year where I can put on full zombie make up, walk around (or stumble as the zombie case may be) and not  be judged as “the weird zombie girl”. Although, I think most people do view me as that anyways, but who cares?

So, this Halloween, I hope everyone has a very spooky and fun time. Dress up however you want and show your personality. For all you NaNoWriMoers, relax a little because once that clock hits midnight, it’s time to get to work!

For all of you who signed up for my Spooktacular Halloween Short Story Blog Fest, don’t forget to post your story tomorrow on your blog and link over to this one! I’m excited to read everyone’s stories. I’m sure they will be very spooky!

If you haven’t signed up, but still want to write a story for it, you still can! There’s no word limit, so it can be a short or long story. That’s up to you. Just let me know by commenting here if you want to participate.

Also, be on the lookout for some new zombie photos of me this upcoming week.  I’m excited.

We’re only a few short days away from the start of NaNoWriMo. I’ve talked to quite a few people about it who have said basically the same thing: “I’m nervous, scared, and excited.That really sums up the emotions people feel before the start of something like this. When first-timers tell me they’re scared, I try to tell them everyone gets a little nervous before NaNo, no matter how times they’ve done it. It’s sort of natural to feel something like that. It’s a lot of work to write 50,000 words in a month. It takes a lot of dedication and persistence. Those are two things I lacked last year and that’s why I didn’t finish.

If I could give any advice before this month long writing fest starts, I’d say to just relax. Take some deep breaths and clear your head before going into it. Make sure to connect with other NaNoWriMo participants so you know that you’re not alone. That’s something I didn’t do last year. I didn’t talk to anyone who was participating and I felt really alone. When I got stuck, I didn’t have anyone cheering me on. Nobody pushed me when I fell behind. So I really fell behind. Writing buddies are there to not only keep you somewhat accountable for how much you write, but also to encourage and support you. I’ve already “met” some awesome people on Twitter who are also going for it this year, so I don’t plan on making the same mistake!

Think of NaNoWriMo as more of a time where you can write the novel you’ve always wanted to write, but maybe you just didn’t have the time. Or maybe you just couldn’t get yourself to sit down and write it. November can be the time where you put yourself in a chair and start typing away until you get cramps in your fingers (trust me, it happens haha). As writers (and as people), we need to challenge ourselves so we can get better.

On another note, I will be doing a few guest posts these next couple of weeks. I’ll announce each one as they happen. The first one will be on Monday, so make sure to check out the blog, Wrimos FTW!, on that day to read more NaNoWriMo survival tips from me. 🙂  It’s a great blog for anyone who is a NaNoWriMo participant (or maybe knows someone who is one!)

I’m Back!

Well, here I am again. I’m still dealing with some internet issues but at least I have it. Can’t complain too much….

I would love to be able to say that I’m completely finished with my book, but I can’t. Unfortunately, I’m still working on it. I am pretty darn close to the end though.  I just don’t want to rush through it just to finish it.  Some writers see that finish line ahead of them and start sprinting towards it. Personally, I like to keep up my steady pace instead of rushing through it.  If I keep up that pace, I should finish by next week. We’ll see. 🙂

Speaking of next week, a couple other events will be happening. On Monday, my Halloween short story blog fest will start. If you haven’t signed up, you still can. All you have to do is find a spooky photo and write a spooky short story based on the photo. Post it on your blog with a link coming back to this blog and you’re all set! The story can be as long or as short as you want it. No length requirements for this one.

Also, NaNoWriMo starts the day after my blog fest. I still have some researching and planning to do but I think I’m ready this year. I’m going to go in and try my hardest to make it to that 50,000 word count. I guess you can say that I’m feeling more confident about being able to write at least 2,000 words a day in order to “win”.

I hope everyone has had a productive week. 🙂 Now, I’m off to continue to plug away at this novel so I can hopefully have it most of the way finished before NaNo starts haha.

Blog Hiatus

Due to the fact that I have to finish my book before NaNoWriMo starts in a couple of weeks and that I’m switching internet services, I am taking a two week blog hiatus.  I hope to be back in time for my Halloween short story blog fest on the 31st. I was hoping that my new internet would have been turned on by then, but hopefully by the 28th, it will be. I think it will be good for me to take a little break to completely focus on finishing/tweaking my current w.i.p before NaNo. Wish me luck. 🙂

The answer? Anything you want, it’s your blog. If you want to teach people to cook, how to be a mom, how much you enjoy being a teacher, or just to do movie reviews, it’s all up to you. A lot of us would love to be able to write for a living (I sure would) but just get in & pour your heart out even if you never get any money out of it. I have had my blog for just a little over a year now & it has been the most enjoyable thing that I have done since getting online many years ago. I’m no expert, but wanted to give you all some ideas that I have learned along the way to maybe help you out if you are just getting in on this wild & crazy world of blogging. First of all, if you want to maybe get more exposure (like here on WordPress the Freshly Pressed highlight), you may want to keep your writing clean. They will not put you on there if all of your posts are full of bad words. I know…I would love to write how I talk, but I keep my posts clean hoping that one day I will get that elusive Freshly Pressed gig so I can pick up more readers. The more readers you get, the better your chances are at growing & possibly picking up advertisers & making some money. If your not looking for that & just want to spill it all out…go for it. Like I said, it’s your blog.
I also try to reply to everybody that leaves a comment on my posts. They took the time to read your stuff & make a comment..now you take the time to respond to them. It really makes you feel so good when somebody says something about what you have written. You can also pick up & make alot of great new blog buddies (friends) from this.
Try to pick a theme that you can customize so your blog will stand out as you & people will get to know you by. The one I use let me add my own picture as the header. I took this picture, added type to it with Paint Shop Pro & now it is my one-of-a-kind header. It’s kinda fun trying new thems from time to time, but once I found & put my own touch to the one that I have, kinda want to stick to it so everybody will remember it. I went through 3 different ones before settling on this one.
Make sure you get the word out on it…set-up the Twitter thing so everytime you make a new post, it tells all of your followers. There are other sites that you can list your blog on also that helps with exposure. Bloggers.com has alot of spammers, but you can get some good people out of it…that is where I met Melissa here that I am guest posting for, so you can meet great people & wonderful writers.
The other thing that I try to do is keep my word count under say 600-700 words. I may gone over that here, but I am always scared that it might get boring if I ramble on too long. Like I said, I’m no pro, but wanted to throw down some ideas that you may not have thought of to help any of you out that I can. I may have left some out here too. Come join the blogging world with us & hope to read your posts someday. Thanks so much for this little challenge Melissa. Looking forward to having you on mine.

Jason (The Mindslam)

Check out Jason’s blog here.

Today, we welcome Christopher who is here to talk about his experiences with writing American History novels. Tomorrow, we have another guest post about writing blogs and I’ll also be posting something of my own. For now, let’s welcome Christopher and hear what he has to say!

Four Peas Needed To Cook Up an Authentic American History Novel

I wish to thank Melissa for Inviting me to guest post. I look forward to having her guest post on The Night Beatsoon. As soon as she put out the call, I immediately thought about an appropriate topic. The first thing that sprung to mind was an article about the process to create an Alternative History Novel. History has always been a passion of mine. In high school I never got lower than a B- when it came to world history, and when American History came around, my worst wound up being only an A-. Needless to say, If you have any love for the subject, and possibly if you are of a certain mindset, you will come to a time when you will read some historical account and then “What if X happened instead” will pop into your head.

It was probably during some boring class like English (I know, how can it be boring if you’re a writer. I know enough to write, but don’t ask me to diagram a sentence to save my life) that one such What if popped into my head. “What if we never learned the lessons of The Civil War, and a mere ten years later it happened again, this time in the American West.” Thus the seeds of an Alternative History (Alt-Hi) were born, and to one degree or another, I have continued to refine the story from then on. So when Melissa put out the call for guest bloggers, my mind went to this subject, and I thought of the title Four Peas (P’s) to Create The Perfect Alt-Hi. The Peas, in brief, are Premise, Probability, Possibilities, and Preparation.
P#1: Premise
I have already told you the premise of the story I have been refining over the years. What separates the Alt-Hi from Sci-Fi, is that, while both genre’s begin with the What if question, The Alternative History is limited to the inventions and conditions of the timeline they are reconstructing. (For example, Let’s say Lincoln doesn’t get assassinated. We can’t have him saved by being teleported out of the theatre just before Booth fires. We could have him blocked by another patron until the moment is unfavorable.) There are an unlimited number of premises. Will Your Premise make it into a story? Not unless it makes it through another Pea.
P#2: Probability
If The Premise is the “What If?” question, then the Probability of your Alt-Hi is best defined by the “Who Cares?” question. Simply put, while any decision in history could have had another possible outcome, unless that outcome can grab even the authors interest, certainly your reader wont come along for the ride. Now the Sci-Fi writer doesn’t have to worry about probability. In some cases, the more fanciful the premise, the better. With an Alt-Hi, one of the cornerstones of the genre is HISTORY, as in “Could this actually have happened?”. In the case of my original premise, you have to ask, at any time in “the Old West”, did conditions arise that would have created a “Spark” that lit the fuse of civil war like happened at Fort Sumter. In my researching of the premise, I found a number of conditions that would make my premise probable.
  • At the outbreak of the Civil War, many frontier posts were either abandoned or had their troop numbers severely downgraded and the troops sent South to assist the War, leaving the settlers to face the Natives on their own. Approximately 10 years later, with “Reconstruction” coming to an end, those same troops returned, in true Mighty Mouse style (“Here I come to save the day…”), hoping that the settlers would be grateful for their “protection”.
  • By virtue of the Treaty of Purchase in 1867, the People of Alaska (native Russians and Aleut) were entitled to “The enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of Citizens of The United States” if they remained there THREE YEARS (1870). In fact, Alaska had not even the most basic of Civil Law and was a true example of the Wild, Wild, West until 1884.
  • The Western States of Arkansas, Louisiana Texas and Missouri had all been participants in the Civil War, and the first three were subjected to the punishment called “reconstruction” which was instituted in response to Lincoln’s assassination and birthed the Klan. These states were chafing under the military yoke and could have been spoiling for another fight.
P#3: Possibilities
We could also call this, how many links are in your chain of events (or chain reaction). Unless you are interested in writing a very short story, you should try to have your premise create as many new possibilities as possible. Among the possibilities opened up by this premise.
  • The Elections of 1952, 1956, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1996 are completely invalidated due to both candidates being born in the Republic and not in the United States. The Elections of 2008, 1992, 1984, and 1948 Had an Ineligible Democratic Candidate (Sorry, Obama was born in Hawaii). The Elections of 1996, 1976, 1960, 1936, 1932 and 1928 had an ineligible Republican Candidate. For brevity, I have excluded anyone born West of the Mississippi River after 1875. Some of the other elections may have different outcomes once Popular and Electoral Votes are re tabulated. One surety, the “Stolen” Election of 1876 was swung firmly from Hayes to Tilden by the Secession of the West. Talk about Operation Chaos!
  • The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor would have been on a U.S. Leased Naval Base on Republican soil (Hawaii would be part of the Republic of Ansdale). You would get two nations into the war for one attack.
  • The Battle of Little Big Horn (aka Custer’s Last Stand) would have been an elaborately drawn trap by R.O.A. Troops to Split U.S. Forces with a Two Front War, comprised of both Native American and the Republican Army.
  • The Assassination of JFK in Dallas, TX by Lee Harvey Oswald (a known Soviet Sympathizer who had defected to the U.S.S.R.) would have been an attempt by the Soviet Union to create a North American war which would have made both nations ineffective against a Communist expansion into Western Europe and Asia.
I think you get the idea. One decision creates almost unlimited possibilities. If you have passed through step three without your original premise being reduced to ashes, congratulations. If you haven’t, go over it again until you find a premise that can stand the test. Once you do, you are ready for the “final” step.
P#4: Preparation
I can hear you scream, “what was I doing during the previous three steps?” That was preparing your premise to make a story. Now comes the fun part (at least for me) researching your characters. I have created little who’s who bios for just about every fictional character I have created. I know when they were born, where, where they were educated, who they married, how many children they have, who were their classmates, etc. Now this part could be a post in itself, as could the other peas. While this may seem an exercise in absolute tedium, there is a point. Without doing this step your Alt-Hi will become Sci-Fi. Not in the sense of the typical definition of the genre, but because your character will seem an outside “alien” observer to the events you describe instead of being able to seamlessly interact with their surroundings. You are changing the outcome of one premise, but your character must still be believable within the “correct” timeline. In the case of my story, the key character, John Lee Anderson, is the brother of Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter, went to West Point at the Same time as Grant, served with him in the Mexican War, and during post war assignments in the South, married a distant cousin of Jefferson Davis and retired from active service, and is the father of three sons and one daughter, all of whom have followed their father into military service, to the great disappointment of their mother. Called back into service and assigned to the “Northern reaches of the Nebraska Territory” by President Pierce, he sees his responsibility to the people of the Western States and Territories as outweighing his duty to Washington. I have skipped dates for brevity and tedium’s sake, but I think you can see that, by creating a “life” for your character, you have also created a purpose for his existence in your story (other than a story needs a character). If you do all these steps, you are now in possession of a premise that will survive not only one story, but even being turned into a multi-novel series. You can now begin to write.