Friday, October 24, 2014

Scary October: The Whaley House

In celebration of my favorite month, October, I'm featuring a different scary place every Friday. This week it's a haunted home we visited while in California in 2011.

The Whaley House is located in San Diego in the heart of Old Town. (Old Town, by the way, is home to some of the most amazing Mexican restaurants in the world!) My husband suggested we go there, since it's often called the most haunted house in the world.

Almost every haunted attraction has been called that at some point, but not many have been called that by LIFE magazine. The most prominent ghost in the house is reportedly this man...

James "Yankee Jim" Robinson was publicly hanged on the land in 1852. His death wasn't an easy one--the hanging failed and he strangled to death. The exact place where he was hanged--the area that is now marked by an archway between the house's music room and parlor--is said to be haunted by his ghost.

Many other ghost sightings in the house are attributed to members of the Whaley family. 

Visitors have even reported seeing a small fox terrier running through the house. The Whaleys owned a terrier they named Dolly Varden. I would like to point out, however, that each room is blocked from visitors by glass. Many of the supposed paranormal pictures out there are simply reflections of the photographer in that glass.

Here's an episode of "The Haunting Of..." where Regis Philbin visits the Whaley House.

The Haunting Of S01E05 Regis Philbin by ghostvid

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No, I Don’t Want a Free Sample and NO, You Can’t Ask Me a Question

We live a very short distance from this gigantic mall:

While I've never measured it, I believe if you walk the complete length of the mall, it's at least a mile. That makes it a great place to get a little indoor exercise while also shopping or grabbing a bite to eat.

There's only one thing that completely obliterates any enjoyment you might possibly get from being in a mall. (Yes, the mall is my happy place!)

Picture it. You're walking along, enjoying your day, inhaling the delicious aroma of Auntie Anne's pretzels and new clothes...

When all of a sudden, a hand is thrust toward you. It's a sample. And some kiosk salesperson wants to know if you want one.

Of course, you say "no, thank you," because you're polite. But the kiosk salesperson isn't through with you just yet. There's one more thing on the script they all use.

Sometimes I say, "No, thank you" and sometimes I keep walking. As polite as I am, I figure the first, "No, thank you," should do it. My stepdad suggests this answer to that question:

If there's a way to get around them, I haven't found it. This article suggests looking poor, while this article recommends feeling sorry for them. 

I wonder if annoying kiosk people are contributing to the death of the indoor shopping mall. I haven't yet seen annoying kiosk people at the many outdoor lifestyle centers that are replacing themI have a feeling once indoor malls are completely gone, kiosks will pop up at lifestyle centers, too.

How would you deal with being harassed every few steps while shopping or trying to get from Point A to Point B?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Can You Make a Full-Time Living as a Writer?

It's been well established that most authors never make enough money to quit our day jobs.

I quit my day job more than a year ago to write full-time.

Granted, I'm not making a full-time living off of writing fiction. Instead, I'm combining fiction with freelance writing jobs I've gotten online.

I set my own hours. I do what I love for a living. I write when I want, go to the mall when I want, and do my grocery shopping and other chores while everyone else is at work. There are downsides, though...

I trade set work hours for having to put in extra work on the weekends. Because it makes more sense to me to do chores on a Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., that means I often have to play catch-up on weekends. But if I want to take Saturday afternoon off, I can. Or I can take all weekend off...I just have to work harder during the week. The point is, I'm in control of my time, and I like that.

I didn't start off making big bucks, though. In fact, I was probably paid $0.0000001 per word at first. But once I'd built my portfolio, I started bidding $.01 per word and gradually went up from there. Yes, many people out there are looking for writers to write for next-to nothing. Experience and talent allows you to gradually charge more.

The truth is, if you're going to be a full-time writer, you'll probably have to supplement your writing income with something. Whether it's paid appearances like school visits, writing magazine articles, doing odd jobs you find on sites like TaskRabbit or Uber Corner Store, or writing--it's up to you. But in today's sharing society, you can do it. That's the good news!