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Diving into a cold lake

Girl dives into a calm summer lake in the countryside of Vermont

As a writer, sometimes I struggle to produce a description in a scene or feeling I want the reader to experience. I am challenged to get the words just right, so that you understand and experience the emotion and sensations of the story and what the characters are experiencing. This is one of those times!

Every summer, I look forward to re-creating the feeling that occurs from diving into a cold northeast lake after sitting in the scorching sun on a warm summer day. That sense of shock when your hot skull hits the cold water, and then the refreshing tingle all over as you move to break through to the surface and the warm muggy air. Your heart is pounding from the shock and the breath you take when you come up shudders in your lungs. It’s a physical feeling that I love, which may sound crazy, but l think of it often.

It’s not easily re-creatable in a pool or the ocean. Those places have their own sensory parties. Especially the cold north Atlantic where doing this is actually painful due to the freezing temperatures of the water. In order to get this sensation, you must be in a lake, with green trees all around and weeds near the bottom that skim along your feet as you dive deep. The lake must also be deep enough to dive into and to produce the cold water needed for the shock of the change in temperature.

Do you know what I mean?

Maybe words are just not enough to convey that sensory experience. Maybe I am alone in relishing the sensations of diving in an icy lake on a hot day. My family and friends treat me as if I am a bit nuts when asking them to describe their sensations when doing this.

Maybe to me it holds more than just a way to cool off. That lake experience of my youth was pretty awesome. Those were the times when you left home to play in the morning and didn’t come home until supper. My siblings and I would walk in our cut off Levi’s’ cutting through fields and railroad tracks to the little local lake where groups of small-town kids spent their summer days. Hanging out in the sun and cooling off in the lake. Those were some good times.

We used to all go in the water in groups, all diving off the diving board on the dock and out to the raft floating out in the middle of the lake. We laid in the sun to dry off on that floating barge. Turning back when we got hot or hungry or sick of the boys pushing each other into the water.

We were exhausted at night, having walked, biked, and swam all day. Too tired to get into too much trouble at home. I think it’s why our parents loved to send us there. It wore us out.

That feeling of diving into that cold lake will stay with me until I die, I am sure of it. The memories of the banana seat bike, frozen snickers and teen loves. I hope to do it justice in the next in the series of the Stone House Inn books. Killer Recipe is underway and will be out before Christmas is the plan. So now you know there will be a scene–unless it gets edited out—of someone diving into the cold water!

Taking with a Psychic Medium

One of the cool things that writers get to do when putting together a book, is to research some of the material that is going into the overall published material.  For the Stone House series, I have had some interesting conversations with some very intriguing individuals.

The overall goal in talking to people is to gain a flavor of reality for the story. If I were to state something in the story about overall police procedures and have something glaring wrong – it would really put off people who know how it should be. Being a nurse, I actually get offended when I read stories that have medical procedures all wrong.  It really puts me off the story, and I believe that the author did not take the time to get the details right.

 I have spoken with police at all levels to understand some of the procedures they undergo when a murder is being investigated. I have researched how long it takes for a body to decompose and taken the time to understand how an incident command would be set up in the middle of the woods.

The most interesting conversation I have had so far in my career, has been the conversation I had with a medium – actually she is a psychic medium. I love to scare myself with ghost stories and will frequently watch TV shows that have mediums and cast members that claim to talk to dead people.

My goal was to find out if she could really see people who ‘are on the other side’, and “test” whether or not her predictions or her reading of me would be accurate.  In our conversation, I learned that I have a lot of Angel Energy and that I needed to make the change I was considering in my career. I thought the first was pretty cool but was a little shocked at the second. I had purposely decided to NOT share any information in order to have what I considered to be a valid reading. She should not have known that. I did tell her I was writing a book where one of the characters was a medium, and I wanted to get it right. She was glad I asked, as she had similar reaction to incorrect information in books as I did. I had not shared anything personal, except my name. hmmm

Back to seeing ghosts.  She shared with me, that indeed she could see spirits on the other side, she can feel their energy and they share information with her. Some are easier to read than others. She then shared with me that there was someone who was trying to thank me, she asked if I knew someone named “C…”  She mentioned my father by name, who had died several years ago.  Now she could have googled me or looked me up on Facebook for some of this information; at that point in my conversation, I wasn’t fully impressed.

But then…. And I still get chills when I think about this. No other person on earth knew what she next said to me. There was no way she could have known what transpired as my father lay dying all those years ago….

And I became a believer….

Interesting Editing

My book Deadly Inheritance is in the process of being edited.  This is a process that happens to a written work, whether the author publishes traditionally with a publishing house or goes the self-publishing route.  The editing and re-writing process can be a challenge for a writer, as the book you worked over for months gets essentially picked apart and put back together.  Not only are the grammar and spelling reviewed, but the overall plot, characters setting, scenes, dialogue etc.  After the initial edit, which I got back this week, there will be some re-writes and edits and then another review before the final product is ready to publish in later July.  After that there is a final review and formatting before it reaches the reader.

During this process, there are some interesting conversations between writer and editor.  As you can imagine writing a murder mystery, there are events that occur in the storyline that are not discussed in a normal conversation.  And you may also imagine that there is some research that needs to be done to make sure events are depicted accurately.  I sincerely hope that no one looks at my search history!  Of course, the book on poisons laying on my desk, may also raise suspicions.  (We’ll talk research at a later blog). 

The conversation went a bit like, “I know that this character dies, but maybe we should murder her instead.  And I’d like to see more from the killer…”

And then of course, I had to figure out how I would do that.  That’s the overall focus of all this work of course, is the final product for the reader to enjoy.  My goal is to get you to read the story and love it, recommending it to your friends and family but to also keep it on your shelf to reread it again someday…

Latest from the Blog

Diving into a cold lake

As a writer, sometimes I struggle to produce a description in a scene or feeling I want the reader to experience. I am challenged to get the words just right, so that you understand and experience the emotion and sensations of the story and what the characters are experiencing. This is one of those times! … Continue reading Diving into a cold lake

Taking with a Psychic Medium

One of the cool things that writers get to do when putting together a book, is to research some of the material that is going into the overall published material.  For the Stone House series, I have had some interesting conversations with some very intriguing individuals. The overall goal in talking to people is to … Continue reading Taking with a Psychic Medium

Murder Mystery Inspiration

  Bennington Museum/Tim Wager Colorization – 1898 – The Glastenbury Casino along with the Bennington-Woodford electric RR carrying passengers…. Photo was taken from the balcony of the Glastenbury Hotel…. Resort only operated for one season after flooding destroyed the majority of the rail tracks Getting the creative incentive to write a story can be a … Continue reading Murder Mystery Inspiration

Murder Mystery Inspiration

 

Glastenbury, Color by Tim Wager. Bennington Museum. 1898 – The Glastenbury Casino along with the Bennington-Woodford electric RR carrying passengers…. Photo was taken from the balcony of the Glastenbury Hotel…. Resort only operated for one season after flooding destroyed the majority of the rail tracks..

 

Bennington Museum/Tim Wager Colorization – 1898 – The Glastenbury Casino along with the Bennington-Woodford electric RR carrying passengers…. Photo was taken from the balcony of the Glastenbury Hotel…. Resort only operated for one season after flooding destroyed the majority of the rail tracks

Getting the creative incentive to write a story can be a mystery for non-writers.  Ideas and stories come in many different forms for everyone.  I can get a creative idea from reading an article in a newspaper, having a conversation with a stranger, or just wondering about a group of people traveling together in an airport.  The idea for this series of stories comes from a series of real-life events and places.  The stories and the characters are all fiction, but the source of the creativeness comes from real life.

My upcoming book, Deadly Inheritance is based on the events that occur when a young woman goes missing in the dark woods of New England.  In her place, her cousin inherits the family Inn that has been in the family for generations and passed down from father to son. This unexpected inheritance starts a series of events that will reveal what happened to the missing girl, a second chance at love and a killer who wants them all dead.

The story is based on the legend of The Bennington Triangle, where several people have gone missing without a trace in the region of Bennington, VT. The most famous is the disappearance of Paula Weldon, a student from Bennington College, a small elite liberal arts college. Shirley Jackson wrote of this story in her book, Hangsaman. Ms. Weldon’s disappearance prompted the creation of the VT state police in the 1940’s.

As a kid growing up in the area, and later a student at Bennington College, I have been intrigued with these stories.  Every time a skull or a bone is found in the woods of the area, the speculation of what happened to her is resurrected.  Over time there have been several other stories in the area, missing persons, and hunters/hikers that get lost and disoriented in the woods.   There have been extensive searches of missing people in the area, where multiple searchers look through the same areas, where later the missing person is found dead.  The searchers are baffled, as they did not see them during their search, and they would have walked right past.  There are Indian legends of swallowing rocks, that gulp whole humans into the earth never to be seen again.  Like I said…. what a great place for a murder mystery….

For reference if you are interested, Episode 53: MYSTERY – The Bennington Triangle;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dVmueUgWkw

The Bizarre Disappearances in the Bennington Triangle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXzLVc5wNKg

Glastenbury Mtn & The Bennington Triangle | Exploring A Ghost Town & Mysterious Cairns; Ihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdb-1D_Jc8I

Writing Influences

I grew up in a rural Vermont town with an eclectic mix of residents influenced by the local liberal arts college.  Several of those residents sprinkled their influence on me throughout my life, and in retrospect, I wished I had appreciated or taken more advantage of them at the time.  The white marble sidewalks where I walked to school; were the very streets that Shirley Jackson wrote about in her book The Lottery.  The house she raised her family and died in (before I was born) was on the way to the College, the same route we would pick up an elderly gentleman in the rain; a poet whose translations of Pablo Neruda later opened my eyes to the rhythm and beauty of words.  I studied Spanish literature largely due to his influence.

As a teenager eager to leave the confines of the small town, I babysat for Nick Delbanco’s children, I believe I was more the back-up babysitter than the ‘favorite’. I vividly remember him picking me up in a huge white convertible with red leather seats. He was barefoot and happily relaxed. I was mortified as a teen to be seen heading down main street in the open car with this old guy (he was likely in his mid 30’s). It wasn’t until much later in life, I read that he was the mysterious subject of Carly Simon song ‘You’re So Vain’. Whaa?

That same summer I was furiously saving to leave town; doing it in a big way by heading out to live for a year with a family I had never met in Bogota, Colombia. I was making big life plans and that’s all I could talk about. On one of my babysitting gigs, I got a late night call that friends would be arriving to the house, perhaps beating the hosts home. It was a small town, I knew just about everyone so this didn’t concern me. These were the days before we were all worried about abductions and babysitter murders. When I got that call, I had already let a man into the house and was having a chat at the kitchen table with Bernard Malamud, author of The Natural. He was interested in what I wanted to be and I knew I wanted to be a writer ‘someday’. He laughed after disparaging me for letting stranger in the house, and told me the secret of being a writer was to “just write..”ok

            Oh to be my sixteen year old self again, what I would have asked of all of them!