Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Voices: A Guest Post by Karen Helene Walker

Karen Helene Walker is a new friend of mine, so I'm excited to introduce her to everyone! She's here today to promote her new book, The Wishing Steps, which is available now! You can order it here. She's here to talk about something most writers can relate to--the voices in her head.


The Voices

by Karen Helene Walker

Thank you, Stephanie, for hosting me today.

I’ve always had voices in my head. For many years, they tortured me with their negativity. I had to learn to sort out those negative voices from the voice of wisdom that is my Higher Self. I was comfortable with all of that. Until I went on vacation to Scotland and Ireland in 2009 and a voice I’d never heard before from inside of me said, “Tell my story.” I wasn’t sure exactly what I heard, so I said, “Sorry, I’m on vacation.” But the voice came again while in Ireland. Once more, I ignored it. But when I got home, I couldn’t forget what I’d heard and began to explore who or what this voice was and what story it wanted me to tell.

I’ve always imagined that fiction writers must have many voices inside their heads. The voice of the Muse or God or whatever it is that brings an author the idea for a story. Then there are the voices of the different characters. I didn’t hear the voices of my characters inside my head. It was more that I felt what they wanted to say and wrote that down. But I wonder whether some writers do hear their characters speak in a voice different from the author’s own voice. Do share in comments if you have thoughts on this, please.

If a writer does hear their character talking, how do you turn that off? How do you live your life while some character is living inside your head living theirs? It’s mind-boggling. Over the years, my negative voices quieted down considerably and more and more, it’s the voice of wisdom I hear. I’ve also learned that when the negative voice does come, I can shift it quickly by turning my energy and attention to the voice of wisdom.

Ironically, that is one of the themes in The Wishing Steps. Turning from what I call the Dark Side, to the Light of the Goddess. Here is the scoop on the story:


Three Women and a Single Story That Unites Them Across the Millennia

“Totally engrossing. A must-read for today’s wise woman!” Rev. Kathleen McKern Verigin, minister/priestess

Brighid, Ashleen and Megan: Bound through time by a curious light, a mysterious voice and a call they dare not ignore. Yet in obeying this strange force, the women must face soul-searing trials that call into question everything they know and believe — about themselves and about the world around them.

“Guaranteed to inspire you to a deeper level of spirituality and a new appreciation for Goddess.”Rev. Clara Z. Alexander


Karen Helene Walker is a widely published essayist and author of the 2009 memoir, Following the Whispers. When she isn’t writing, you will often find Karen performing in nursing homes and retirement communities as part of the Sugartime or Sophisticated Ladies musical groups, traveling with her husband of 20 years, Gary, or relaxing with a good book at their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit the author’s website at

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Scary October: St. Augustine Lighthouse

In celebration of my favorite month, October, I'm featuring a different scary story every Friday. This week I'm spotlighting a location that would be interesting even if it wasn't haunted. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously-occupied city in America and this lighthouse is the oldest surviving brick structure in the town.

Peter Rasmussen was the original lighthouse keeper. He was known to be a strict manager who regularly smoked cigars while on duty. To this day, visitors report smelling cigar smoke while in the lighthouse.

But visitors are far more enthralled by the ghosts of two little girls, Eliza and Mary Pity. Eliza, 13, and Mary, 15, drowned on the property in 1873.

The Pity girls
Today, people report a variety of activities inside the lighthouse. A young girl has been seen in period dress at the top of the lighthouse. A door that is closed and locked every evening is frequently found unlocked and open by the morning staff member--somehow without having tripped the alarm.

To this day, Ghost Hunters' episode about the St. Augustine lighthouse is considered one of its best. Sounds were captured on camera throughout the night, but perhaps the spookiest moment was one where you could actually see a black blob peek over the railing, then disappear.

Come back next week for the final stop on my ghost tour:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Grocery Shopping from Your Car

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know all too well that I hate grocery shopping.

As a freelance writer, I've spent the past four years writing about all the exciting things everyone else can have brought to your homes. Groceries, restaurant food, wine... If you live in a big city, chances are there's a person who will bring it to you.

Until this summer, the only thing we could have delivered to our old house in Nashville was pizza. A month after we moved, Shipt started delivering groceries to our old neighborhood. Our new neighborhood isn't part of their service area.

I thought all hope was lost. Then I heard our big grocery chain (Kroger) will offer grocery pickup with a new store here...a year from now. Lost hope again. But then something awesome happened.

Walmart announced it was offering grocery pickup here. You just go to their website and put the groceries in your cart. When you're ready to check out, you pick a time for pickup and they put it all together for you. I was expecting massive failures, since I can't seem to deal with a business these days without needing seven calls to customer service.

Nope. The whole thing was easy-breezy. They called at 10:45 a.m. to say my groceries were ready and I headed straight over. I pulled into the designated parking space...

...and called the phone number on the sign. Within minutes, two great employees came out with all my groceries. A team of managers followed and watched the whole thing. Apparently it was the first day and they were excited about it.

They even gave me a welcome bag because I was a first-timer.

Oh...and now the Kroger down the street from me is installing grocery pickup stalls as you read this!

Photo by Cathi King Carver (via Facebook)

Of course, I'm sure all of you have online delivery, so this all seems very old school! Leaving the house to get groceries? SO last decade!

Have you ever had your grocery shopping done for you?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Paranormal Activity Truth or Fiction: Guest Post by Valerie Capps

Full disclosure: today's guest blogger is my mom. But she's also the best writer I've ever read. Now you see where I got my writing gene! Today she's celebrating the launch of her first book on Amazon. It's a short story that is the beginning of a series called Proctor Hollow. I was lucky to get an early edition of it and I loved it. You will, too! Plus, it's only $.99. Be sure to stick around after her guest post to read more about her book. 


Paranormal Activity Truth or Fiction

by Valerie Capps

It’s that time of the year again. Halloween! The season when those of us who enjoy a good story about things that go bump in the night try to get our fix for the year. As for me, I’m constantly searching for a new ghost story or paranormal book to read. More often than not when I find one it turns out to be a tedious read that doesn’t allow me to suspend my disbelief or it becomes so gory that instead of teasing my imagination it makes my stomach do queasy flip-flops. 

Some psychologists are investigating why so many people persist in believing in superstitious nonsense and perpetuating ancient folklore. They tell us that most paranormal experiences can be explained. Brain processing glitches, alcohol, drugs, tricks of lighting and other rational explanations dismiss most instances of the paranormal. But then there are the ones that can’t be explained away so easily. What about those phenomena? Psychologists tell us they’re still “looking into” those instances and are confident a reasonable explanation will eventually be found. Until then, there will be people like me who continue to be fascinated by the unknown and unexplained.

According to surveys, up to three-fourth of Americans believe in the paranormal. Nearly one in five say they’ve actually seen a ghost. Most people won’t admit this except in confidential surveys for fear of being thought ignorant, superstitious or a few ghosts short of a haunting. For this reason, I’ll tell you right now that I am not superstitious (knock on wood) and I’ve never seen a ghost (although if you won’t tell anyone, I will admit to having heard and felt the presence of a few spirits during my lifetime).  

Why are so many people fascinated with things that can’t be explained? Are you one of them? Do you believe in ghosts, spirits and paranormal activity? If so, you might find my Procter Hollow Short Stories interesting; if not, perhaps you will find them mildly entertaining. 


Six-year-old Lucy Rhys has never met her great-grandmother Rhys, a woman known to locals as the Holler Witch. The woman lives deep in the woods of Proctor Hollow, a place Lucy’s mother and aunt call the Devil’s Den. In the fall of 1955 the old woman was dying and her last wish was to see Lucy. Everyone knows it is very bad luck to thwart a dying wish—especially on All Hallows Eve and the night of a lunar blood moon. 


Valerie Capps is a freelance writer. Her short stories and articles have appeared in magazines and newsletters with world-wide circulation. Since her retirement from State Government last year, she has ghost-written two books for Kindle Publication and numerous articles for on-line sites. Her latest project is a series of short stories with a paranormal theme set in a mid-twentieth century town called Proctor Hollow. The stories will be individually published in the upcoming months as Amazon Kindle e-books. The first in the Proctor Hollow series, The Holler Witch, is now available on Amazon

Valerie lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Doug, and their Welsh Corgi, Bandit.

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