Posts Tagged ‘ghost stories’

I don’t really have a “to be read.” The whole world is things I haven’t read yet, and I mostly take whatever’s next.

I read far more nonfiction than fiction, and always have. I read far more short stuff than long stuff. I keep the latest issue of Scientific American on my kitchen counter and read articles while I’m waiting for the Foreman Grill to heat, while the microwave is reheating the soup, when I should be slicing tomatoes.After I’m done with that, it will be Sports Illustrated or the local paper.

I usually keep a huge heavy book for bathroom reading. I just finished Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation and started a biography of Andrew Carnegie that I bought four years ago when youngest started at Carnegie Mellon University; I intend to finish it before he finishes his master’s in December. Seriously. Really, I will.

In more targeted reading, the ghost story has sent me into New England history, particularly history of Rhode Island and Cape Cod, and general news from those areas. I think I’m going to have to make a research trip to Cape Cod later this summer. Such hardships we writers endure…

In fiction, I tend to read whatever’s to hand: short stories whenever I come across a pointer that looks interesting, whatever book or magazine is next to the chair I happen to be sitting in. Last week at my mother’s, I read several romances when I couldn’t sleep. I adore long meaty complex books that never seem to end: Dickens, Tolstoy, George RR Martin. I’m fond of forensic mysteries, cozy mysteries, decipher-the-code mysteries, and ghost mysteries. I’m currently reading a lot of Heather Graham, Donna Andrews, and Preston and Child.

Today’s post was inspired by the “what’s on your to-read list” writing prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.


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A statement like that seems straightforward, but when I stopped to think about it, it had a lot of possible meanings I hadn’t considered.

* I don’t wanna! This in the same sense that a toddler doesn’t wanna take a bath.

* I don’t want to, in the same sense a person might say, “I don’t want to go to work today.” The answer is usually, “Tough.”

* I don’t want to write this way: something is wrong with the time, the place, the thing I’m writing about.
* I don’t want to write this, I want to write something else.

* I don’t want to write, in the more basic sense of, “Writing is not the thing I want to be doing for where I am in my life now.”

I thought I probably meant the kind of “I don’t want to write” that means I need a break. A month or two to just read and let things simmer. For some reason the ghost story is one that wants to procede at a leisurely pace; I thought it had just reached one of its quiet points. And this is partly true.

Another big part turns out to be a simple physical issue. I haven’t used this workspace much for months if not years, but since the laptop died, I’ve been here regularly. I never liked this computer much, but it’s just a tool, y’know, and I can live with it. The room is laid out wrong. The chair is uncomfortable, and it can’t be adjusted short enough for me (it used to be my son’s). The desk is laid out wrong. There’s clutter. There’s glare. There’s no good place to spread out. Together, it makes the writing a physically unpleasant experience. And when I think about sitting down to a day’s work, my body goes, “Oh, do we hafta?”

Most of the issues are easy enough to deal with. I got a new keyboard and mouse. I rearranged the desk. I’m still working on clearing out all the clutter, and I may yet move stuff around, but it’s getting there. And as the clutter clears out and the pieces go into place, an idea I’ve been wanting to work on for a while is coming forward again.

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The ghost story I’ve been working on has led me into a lot of interesting areas of research regarding DNA, isotope analysis, and other interesting ways to identify dead people. It’s also lead me to realize there are about 40,000 unidentified dead people in the US alone, some dating back thirty or forty years or more. Many of these nameless people have recently been re-examined as new technology becomes available. DNA tests, new facial reconstructions, and other techniques now make it possible to match relatives of long-missing people to their deceased loved ones.

This means that if you have a missing person in your family, especially an older case, you can take new steps to locate them.

You should contact the agency where your loved one’s missing persons report was initially filed and make sure the case is still active. This is especially true for someone who was a minor when they went missing, because many law enforcement agencies automatically close such cases when the missing person reaches 18 or 21. Also, many cases from the 70’s and 80’s were just closed and the records tossed. I’ve even seen cases where law enforcement agencies took all the information for a missing persons report but never actually opened a case — especially true of missing adult children or “runaway” spouses.

Check to see whether that case file is complete, with a thorough description, photos, and any other information you have. Dental records are especially useful. The sites I list below have lots of information about what information you need and what are good ways to distribute it.

Make sure your missing loved one is listed in the many find-the-missing websites, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Center for Missing Adults, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, NAMUS (www.identifyus.org and http://www.findthemissing.org), etc. For cases more than a few years old, there’s the Doe Network (www.doenetwork.org).

Make sure your family DNA is on file — there’s a procedure for this but it needs to go through the agency where your loved one is reported missing.

All those sites have further information about actions you can take to make it more likely your loved one will be found. And I should mention that quite a number of missing people have turned up alive, living in other parts of the country — it’s not all about unidentified bodies.

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Graveyard Shift, a ghost story with romance, is up on my LiveJournal, under friends lock. Let me know if you want to be added to the filter.

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