div#ContactForm1 { display: none !important; }

Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday the 13th....and celebrating a new release from Shannon Lawrence

A wonderful blogger friend, Shannon Lawrence, is celebrating the release of her new short story collection today!

On Friday the 13th????

But of course!

If you happen to know Shannon Lawrence, it's clear that today is perfect for her tales. She swims in all things spooky, dark, suspenseful, and tension-filled.

To help celebrate, we're to tell our own spooky tales, reveal our favorite urban myths or even gallop into the world of dark mythology. Every time, I think of spooky things I've run across during my life so far, I can't help but think of Dvigrad. I'm going to cheat a little here because there isn't really a ghost story surrounding this little-known place in Croatia. It's simply the town (or what remains of it) and it's history, which left a mark on me... in their own, chilling way.


This isn't a place usually found on most people's 'top tourist sights' lists. It's an abandoned, midieval town in central Istrian, Croatia, in the Draga Valley. Translated, Dvigrad means two towns. These settlements were around before the Romans moved in and lived in normal conditions until the Venetians took them over. Around 1345, war broke out between the Patriarchs, and it was besieged and conquered. In 1383, the Venetians won power again, took Dvigrad over, slaughtered the citizens, stole the riches from the church and remained in control. In 1616, it was devastated again during the war between Venice and Austria. The real downfall started in 1631 with the plague. By 1714, the last building occupied, the church, was abandoned. 

Now, none of this is really creepy in a ghostly way...or scary. But you have to picture the ruins of over 220 buildings, including a high, surrounding wall, all grown in by trees, bushes and vines. No one goes there. The supposed parking place to stop there and view it is a small, dirt area where weeds are somewhat kept at bay. We wandered the place for over two hours and not another soul was there the entire time.

It's so strange, walking down the streets of an ancient, abandoned town, while the buildings...although in ruins...still stand enough to be recognized with doors and windows and walls. The population wasn't small when the the town was occupied...it was a main trading place, thriving with life. And yet, all of it stands empty and forgotten. It's said almost all of them died of the plague.

And that abandoned, sad atmosphere rings with every step one takes.

No one has tried to keep back nature. No one has tried to put up signs or even make it friendly for anyone to walk through. Even walking through it is very dangerous. We followed a small path, which found itself more and more thickly grown on both sides. Suddenly, we realized the bushes had mutated to treetops and that we were walking along a path maybe 3 feet wide with over a 15 foot drop-off on both sides...and that on an ancient stone wall. (Noticing this while walking around with two young kids, who might have accidentally stepped off the side, was a real heart-stopper.)

So, is this a scary story? Maybe not. But walking down these streets left an odd feeling of strangeness I doubt I'll ever experience again. And it left a mark, I'll remember for life.

If you want to see some pictures (because I have no idea what pile my husband put ours into), head on over here.

Bruised Souls & Other Torments
 Short Stories

by  Shannon Lawrence

Fear resides in the soul.

A welcoming widow with a twisted appetite; a war-time evil lurking behind the face of a child; a father’s love gone horribly wrong; a deadly government solution; a new job with a demonic pay scale; a woman trapped in a mysterious house with no memory of who she is or how she got there. These are a mere glimpse of the terrors that lie in wait in this collection of horror short stories, sure to grip the psyche and torment the soul.  

Amazon pre-order link:

You can stalk Shannon Lawrence...

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG—Writing Healthy Into the Spring?

The first Wednesday of every month is when this group of awesome writers comes together to offer support, advice, encouragement or simply to let  frustrations and woes flow. Writing is a tough journey, and we don't have to go it alone.

Thanks goes to the brain behind this group, Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you want to join in or find out more (because there is so much more to this group), then head on over here.

Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG. They can also be found on Facebook or on the IWSG blog.

Super, special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts:Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

(WARNING: I'm babbling this month!)

Happy March!!!

I don't know about you, but I'm not really ready for it. Not at all.

Here on my little farm, March means the beginning of all sorts of outside work. Now, don't get me wrong. I love to work outdoors (otherwise, what am I doing on a farm?). BUT that also means double the workload. I wasn't even keeping up with things this winter!

My list has gotten huge: firewood to split, fence line to clean, fence line to move (build), house to be painted, weeds to be pulled, seeds to be planted, brush hogging, re-setting the pool, rebuilding railing around the deck...and...and...and...

If I stop and let myself think about it, I get a little overwhelmed. You know that sense of panic which pulls at the chest and makes it hard to breathe, while you squeal through clenched teeth??? Yep, that's what happens. So, I don't think about. Nope.

But there's a bright side! (*cough*cough* Sure there is.)  The bright side? It's time to lose some weight, get fit, and suck in nature's pure air! (Yay???)

As a writer, spending way too many hours sitting behind a keyboard can be a problem, and I'm not just talking about that extra cushion around the hips and waist. A stiff neck, aching wrists and forearms...and let's not forget the back. I mean, who really sits with the perfect posture while typing away? (Okay, the work on the farm also makes me ache....BUT....)

I don't always sit when I write. That's a biggie for me. I tend to move around with my laptop. While my favorite spot is a chair at the dining room table, you'll find me standing at the kitchen island or in front of the living room windows at my small, rolling-standing desk. Seriously, that standing desk on wheels was the best Christmas present ever!

I also 'schedule' small tasks in between writing time as breaks...if I'm going to be writing for several hours at a time. (Which doesn't happen very often, but let's ignore that.) For example, I'll wash a window or two, or take out the garbage...something every half hour of writing or so. There are always small jobs to get done, and instead of doing them all before or after my writing hours, I sprinkle them in between.

Too bad the bigger farm work can't be sprinkled in between. (I wish I could build a fence line in five/ten minutes!) But I'll take what I can get.

What do you do to keep yourself from sitting too long? Or do you just give up and enjoy that chair?