Cemeteries

I always loved watching people’s reactions when I told them I lived on Cemetery Road. Especially when I had to give directions to my house, which ended with “turn right at the giant crucifix”. Most people were shocked and more than a little creeped out. And most of the time, they’d tell me so. Like suddenly I was creepy because of my street’s name.

crucifix
Turn Right Here!

So, I’d just add fuel to the fire by telling them my house was next door to the cemetery. Literally. The only things separating my home from the graveyard were a narrow, dirt road and a row of bushes. They just thought they were creeped out before. Ha!

But the question I never could answer was, “What’s it like living next door to a cemetery?” I’d shrug my shoulders and mumble something like, “I dunno. It’s fine, I guess.”

I moved out of that house in 1998, when I was twenty-two years old. Now I’m forty, and I’ve had time to reflect on how having dead people for neighbors affected my life.

For one thing, when I was very young, I thought my parents owned the cemetery. I can’t remember when I finally understood that it wasn’t ours, but it always felt like part of my home. We moved into that house when I was two years old, so I learned about death at an early age. I’d see the processionals and the fresh graves. Sometimes, I’d even find one that was dug, but the funeral hadn’t made it there yet. My friend Chris jumped down inside one once. And honestly? They aren’t six feet deep.

I used to enjoy walking through the cemetery in the afternoon. It was quiet. Calm. I always felt an essence of peaceful serenity when I was there. I would read the gravestones and wonder what the deceased were like in life. Were they nice people? Were they adventurous? Timid? I’d make up stories in my mind about the people whose remains lay just a few feet beneath me.

horizontal graveNighttime was a different story, though. Especially when I was a teenager. Living on the Gulf Coast, it was more than little humid. An eerie fog liked to collect on the ground, and the headlights reflected off the gravestones as I drove past. It was freaky to say the least. Sometimes I’d park my car 4 feet from the front door and dart inside as quickly as I could. I don’t know why a place that was so peaceful during daylight scared me so much at night.

I suppose you could say I was fascinated with death—but not in a morbid way. I found the different beliefs associated with death interesting. From the Egyptian mummies, to Christian burials to cremation. Why did people make such a big deal out of what to do with the body? The person wasn’t there anymore. Only the shell that housed their spirit remained. I decided early on that funerals aren’t really for the deceased. They’re for the survivors. For the family and friends. Funerals are simply a way for people to grieve.

To this day, I’m still drawn to cemeteries. There’s just something about them that makes me feel comfortable and connected to the world. Maybe the spirits of the deceased are still hanging around. Maybe they enjoy my company. Who knows?

What I do know is that my fascination with death and cemeteries is what fuels my drive for writing about the paranormal.

Carrie Pulkinen has always been fascinated with the paranormal. Of course, when you grow up next door to a cemetery, the dead (and the undead) are hard to ignore. Pair that with her passion for writing, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an exciting storyteller. Carrie spent the first part of her professional life as a high school journalism and yearbook teacher. In her free time, Carrie likes to read, take pictures, and play with her kids. Her novel Reawakened will be released later this year.

Want join the Write. Blog. Connect team? To sign up FOR CONSIDERATION, click HERE.
Advertisements

Distractions

Anne

Two years ago, I moved from the South of England, where I spent most of my working life and returned to my roots in Cumbria. I chose to live between the villages of Windermere and Bowness (the nearest settlement to the lake), because I thought the locality was perfect for my cats. They love it, and so do I. The only problem is the quality of the displacement activities.

When I should be writing, I’m out enjoying. So what makes it so great?

There are loads of reasons, but I’ll confine myself to five.

  1. The Lakes                                                                                                                    Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and I can see it from my window. I can take part in The Great North Swim and the Chill Swim without leaving town. The Lake District has a lively open water swimming community and access to lakes, tarns and rivers. Windermere is great for sailing, although it’s probably one of the most crowded lakes. There is nothing better than spending a summer day out on the water, when there is a light breeze and you know there will be ice cream later.                                                                                                                                                        003     
  2. The Weather                                                                                                 Windermere weather is interesting. When the sun shines, everything is good, the hills are pretty, the gardens stunning and everyone smiles. When the rain is torrential, the hills are hidden, the gardens sulk and there is little evidence that humans exist in the town. Last year we had floods, and many people are still not back in their homes afterwards. The whole area smelled very strange and on the Saturday night of the flood, Bowness on Windermere looked like an alien planet. We’ve been talking about it ever since.
  3. Tourists                                                                                                                                  I love tourists. They are on holiday so they look happy. While those of us on our way to work are stressed, tired and preoccupied, the tourists smile. Even in the rain. They come by car, on the train or in coachloads. Because of them, we have great restaurants, wine bars, cafés, cinemas and theatres and during the summer, Windermere is filled with faces from China, the Middle East and the US.   People watching is a huge pleasure.                                                                                                           tourists
  4. Culture                                                                                                                                Tourists come for the culture as well as the scenery. The Lake District has theatres, it has art galleries, it has theatre groups and music. It has a history of literature, from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter. It has a strong community of writers and artists. Many of the towns host art festivals, and in a month’s time there will be ‘The Festival of Yarns’ in which everyone is invited to write a play to be performed during the week. This year there will be 60 new plays. I describe myself as a writer, but in this festival I’m an actor.
  5. Sheep                                                                                                                                   My mother claimed that sheep were the only topic of discussion on the local radio stations, but I think she was exaggerating. We do have a lot of sheep though, in a huge number of varieties. We have several ‘woolfests’, where every aspect of wool production, from the birth of lambs to the creation of designer clothing, is displayed. If you are enthusiastic about crafts, then the Cumbrian Woolfests are the place to be.                                       20160409_121534
    There are amazing things to be found in most places, and I’d love to hear what is exciting about your home – and encourage you to visit the English Lake District.

Internet Distraction

 

Do you get enticed with social media too? If so, what do you do about it?

Editing: Adjectives

Every writer has his/her crutches. Don’t believe me? Go back and read some of your earliest writing. (You just cringed at the thought, didn’t you?)

image1

Since I’m in the middle of painful edits, I’m going to be totally transparent about my biggest crutch/Achilles heel/bane of my existence.

adjectives

-words that modify nouns & pronouns; a descriptive word-

Why is this a problem? Because adjectives can WEAKEN your writing. Use too many and they work against each other to take away from the imagery you’re creating and pull your reader from the story. A big no-no.

ex. The ugly, long, dirty, dingy, yellow curtains kept the cheerful, blinding, hot sun out of the gloomy, chilly, dusty room.

Say it out loud. It’s an awkward mouthful that overwhelms rather than painting a clear image. Here is a much better example.

ex. The dirty, yellow curtains kept the sun out of the cold room.

The adjective “dirty” tells us the curtains are dingy and ugly, it also tells us the room is dusty. The fact that there are curtains on the window shows us that the room is probably gloomy. The sun doesn’t need descriptors to tell us that its hot, blinding, or cheerful. These are things we infer just from knowing the sun is shining behind the curtains. All those extra adjectives simply cluttered our sentence.

I’ve learned that adjectives are like a king-sized Hershey bar sitting on my counter, luring me closer, begging me to eat all of it at once. I know that if I do, I’ll probably gain 5 poiunds as well as really irritate my 9-year-old son for whom I bought the treat. Simply put, it’s a really bad idea. Using too many adjectives leads to lazy writing, which makes your manuscript “heavy” in the metaphorical sense. *sigh* My MS and I are going on a diet.

Editing funny comic

I’m walking away from that candy bar and getting back to my editing. There’s always more adjectives to delete. In the mean time, leave a comment sharing your worst crutch. I’d love to know I’m not the only one out there who’s willing to expose my imperfections!

2015-2016 Author photo

Sabrina A. Fish is the author of three Shine novellas, Lost Haven, Road to Nowhere and The Gilded Cage. Owner of a thriving Oklahoma trophy company, she collects interesting names to use in her writing from lists of award recipients. She’s been married to a wonderful man for 10 years and has been mommy to a beautiful little boy for 9 of those. You can learn more about Sabrina at www.SabrinaAFish.com or find her on Twitter @SabrinaAFish, and Instagram @SabrinaAFish, on Goodreads, and Facebook /AuthorSabrinaAFish

Just Do it – Become a Writer

Anne

I’ve always wanted to write – to be a writer.

Eighteen months ago I resigned from my job as a Structural Biologist in Cambridge, to move to the North of England and study for an MA in Creative Writing. This felt like a huge life-changing decision, as I sold my house, packed up my worldly goods and set out, together with my three cats, on the long drive north. My friends thought I was insane, although the word they used was ‘brave’.

3 cats

What made me do it?

I needed a change; a new challenge.

When I joined the company I worked for, it was a small start-up biotech and I was one of the first employees. I’d left a secure job for the excitement of being involved at the beginning, but none of us knew whether we would still be employed after the six months of seed funding ran out. The work was demanding and varied, with new deadlines every day. Fifteen years later, the company was successful and secure, but the pace had slowed, and the demands of the job were different. I began to get restless.

I took singing lessons, art lessons, developed interests in long distance running and open water swimming, but none of these things satisfied me.

I’d been writing for a while, had managed to have a few short stories and poems published, and my first novel had been accepted by a small US publishing company (It was fantasy romance). After careful consideration of my options, I applied for, and was accepted at Lancaster University to study for a full-time campus MA.

I decided to live in Windermere, in the English Lake District, mainly because I thought the  cats would like it, but also because of its literary history – William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter all lived here – and found a house on top of a hill.

house

The year of the MA was absolutely inspiring. I met a group of exciting fellow writers from all over the world, was taught by brilliant lecturers, who were also poets, novelists and short story writers, and had the time to explore different forms of writing.

During the course I completed a science fiction novel, set in a dystopian future, had my second fantasy novel accepted for publication and wrote a variety of short stories. I learned to edit and give constructive criticism to my colleagues. It was a fantastic year, and I have never regretted my decision.

My new challenge is to make my writing pay (or to find another job, and my boss told me I’d never work again at my age) in a time of rapidly evolving markets and technology.

If I was presumptuous enough to give advice to anyone, I’d tell them to go for it. Think of ways you can make your dream work. Move towards it, slowly if necessary. I realized, looking back, that that was what I had been doing for years, with the short stories, the writing courses, the local workshop groups and the first attempt at a novel.

Just Do It.

sailing on windermere2grad2

I’m the blonde one with the unsteady mortarboard.

Anne Cleasby lives in the English Lake District and writes fantasy romance under the pseudonym Annalisa Carr

She can be found at http://www.annalisacarr.com